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Should the Union put resources into disrupting child poverty in Leeds?

 

Name of proposer: 

Ben Fisher

What the idea is about:

23% of children in Leeds live in poverty. Inequality within the city is enormous, with 46% of children in Hyde Park and Woodhouse living in poverty compared to 6% in Adel.

No amount of child poverty should be acceptable. The Union is an influential part of the city, and should use some of its resources to help eliminate child poverty in the city.

The union should:

          Lobby the city council and councillors to provide more resources for tackling child poverty.

          Lobby the university to review its activities related to child poverty and encourage it to prioritise this aspect of its social responsibility.

          Engage students in the issue and actively promote ways that they can help eliminate child poverty in the city.

          Where possible, help community groups involved in action against child poverty with resources. This includes providing free or discounted meeting space, advertising and promotional space.

(sources of stats: http://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/why-end-child-poverty/poverty-in-your-area#yorkshire)

Why have you proposed it?:

As university students we benefit from opportunities and experiences that many children growing up in poverty may never have the chance to obtain. We attend an institution that generates over £1bn in Leeds, yet the area within 2 miles of the university houses the 2nd highest rate of child poverty. We should not accept this inequality, and as the collective voice of Leeds University students, LUU is in a good position to address this important problem.

Outcome

There were some changes to this idea:

What the Idea is about now reads:

The union should:

• Lobby the city council and councillors to provide more resources for tackling child poverty.

• Lobby the university to review its activities related to child poverty and encourage it to prioritise this aspect of its social responsibility.

• Engage students in the issue and actively promote ways that they can help eliminate child poverty in the city.

• Work with other Universities on this issue towards a city wide approach

The Panel then voted on this Idea 14 Yes 0 No.

This Idea was passed by the Student Panel

 

Comments

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Sarah Peters
4:49pm on 15 Nov 11 I strongly support the proposal to help children in poverty in Leeds. The numbers of such children are so great that is difficult for councils to provide help and support to all those families. Getting students involved would improve the situation of many children, I'm sure. I think a buddy/mentoring system would be a valuable way for students to help. I also think trips to museums and safe play areas etc. should be a must, as children living in poverty often don't have access to these and they can really benefit a child's educational achievement. Those living in poverty are often excluded from full participation in society, and children can unfairly miss out on important opportunities than most other children experience and that would be beneficial. Therefore, I suggest that it would be important for us to try to increase the opportunities for the children we work with as much as possible, through trips, educational tutoring and through truly listening to what they say they really need. I can't make it to the forum tonight, but really hope the plans are passed, and would love to get involved if they are.
Ben Fisher
4:27pm on 2 Nov 11 Thanks for all your comments! Alexander, I agree that this is the job of the council and social services, but it's not just an issue for them. We all have a role to play in making our community better, which is why I've tried to give specific examples of what we can do given our finite resources. I love the idea of engaging young people with mentoring or inviting them to activities here. Richard - I'm not proposing campaigning against LCC, more asking them what more they can do and trying to work in partnerhsip with them if possible. I agree that we need something very targeted and tangiable, and think there's already a lot of work we do (for example in volunteering) that could feed into these aims.
Samuel Stockley
11:32am on 2 Nov 11 thanks Richard. Great insights, and it's awesome to have an opinion from someone who has experience first hand in dealing with stuff like this. I would agree that a mentoring or 'buddy' scheme would be excellent for the kids confidence, sociliasation and education...perhaps buddy people up with a local child, then we get together ever other week for the day...im thinking board game days, museum visits...things like that.
Richard Bridge
12:13am on 1 Nov 11 The idea of combatting child poverty in Leeds is to be supported but I think the idea of campaigning against LCC purely on the basis that there is significant child poverty on our doorstep is somewhat simplistic. Having worked in the City, the Council is one of the more pro-active councils in the Country at addressing child poverty. That of course does not mean they could not do more but then so could we all. The problems are complex but I am convinced that the very best way that children in the more deprived areas of the city (and of course they are not just Hyde Park and Woodhouse) could be helped is by perhaps setting up a mentoring scheme. I had the privilege of volunteering on a mentoring scheme last year with the Refugee Council in Leeds and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life - sadly, it was stopped due to cuts in the Refugee Council but kids get a very tangible benefit to their well-being, confidence as well as education. And undoubtedly anyone who has ever done mentoring will also find they learn a great deal too - it is far far more than something to put on your CV. I think the initiatives mentioned by Samuel would also be hugely beneficial - I think there is merit in considering teaching some more unusual subjects as well, perhaps such as Philosophy in a primary school. But my preference would undoubtedly be to put the resources into setting up a very targeted tangible scheme - and I am sure mentoring or befriending could prove to be a really successful partnership between the University and some of the communities around us.
Katharine Blacklaws
3:11pm on 30 Oct 11 I totally agree with this proposal, not only moral grounds that we should all try to alleviate child poverty but because it is a good way to show that the university and students can benefit Leeds itself. Some people have a very negative view of students, which is sometimes understandable so more activities that promote good relations between them and the local community is good
Samuel Stockley
11:52am on 30 Oct 11 The problems of poverty are sociological...throwing money at the situation is fighting fire with fire, and is an ugly, temporary solution. For this to work....which based on those stats we simply have to do something...it's our time, resources and energy that should be shared. For instance...we should invite schools from the most deprived areas to free theatre productions (which, by tying up with theatre courses, could be made relevant), we should hold mini-debates about issues close to the kids heart and have them talk together about them...we could use our computer rooms and students to give the kids english and maths lessons if required, and so on.
Alexander Crossley
2:55am on 29 Oct 11 I support some of these ideas. Supporting anti-poverty groups with things like free meeting spaces make sense, as they are a facility of which we have plenty to spare. However I would oppose the use of finite union resources to tackle child poverty. Whilst it is a big problem and it needs to be tackled, that is the job of the council and social services. The Uni has finite resources which should be spent on its students.
 
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