CHILD poverty levels in Coleraine are in the top ten of district council areas across Northern Ireland.
According to the Campaign to End Child Poverty, Child Poverty Map (2012), 21% - over a fifth - of children are living in poverty in the borough – the eighth highest in Northern Ireland.
According to the official government definition child poverty means a family of two adults and two children with an income (or below) of £349 a week (after housing costs) – which is 60% below the national average income and means just £12 (or less) per person, per day.
As a member of the End Poverty Coalition Barnardo’s NI is calling on the NI Executive to focus its work on measures to reduce child poverty.
Director Barnardo’s NI Lynda Wilson said, “Behind today’s statistics sit the most vulnerable children in society whose life chances risk being compromised by our failure to tackle child poverty effectively.
“Barnardo’s NI works with many families in the Coleraine area through our Young Carers and Choices family support services, and the grim reality is that many families face vicious cycles of debt and impossible choices between heating homes or cooking hot meals for their children.”
“We know that children growing up in low income households are more likely to suffer from chronic illness, do less well in education and struggle to find work on leaving school.”
“While the Northern Ireland Executive has already undertaken steps to address child poverty with the introduction of a Child Poverty Strategy there needs to be further emphasis on literacy, numeracy and early intervention to address educational underachievement and the introduction of a Child Care Strategy to help families facing financial hardship.”
Enver Solomon, Chair of the End Child Poverty Campaign said: “The child poverty map reveals the depth and breadth of child poverty and the gross levels of inequality that children face in every region.
“Far too many children whose parents are struggling to make a living are having to go hungry and miss out on the essentials of a decent childhood that all young people should be entitled to.”
“The huge disparities that exist across the country have become more entrenched and are now an enduring reality as many more children are set to become trapped in long term poverty and disadvantage.”