A CAMPAIGN has been launched by The Children’s Society calling for candidates standing for election in the West Midlands on Thursday May 6 to prioritise the well-being of children and young people as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The charity’s #Jointhefightback campaign comes as new analysis shows that out of the 697,900 children living in the West Midlands, 241,100 live in poverty – 39 per cent of all children in the region – 110,900 households with child dependants are on Universal Credit and there an estimated 92,800 children aged five to 16 with a mental health condition.
The charity, which publishes The Good Childhood Report each year, has reported a significant fall in children’s happiness with their lives overall in the past decade. Poverty has risen, the numbers of children in care have increased, and the proportions of children experiencing mental ill health have grown.
With children’s happiness already suffering, the Covid crisis has put even more pressure on young people as they have missed out on months of learning, many families have seen their incomes fall, and the most vulnerable children in society have been out of the view of those professionals and services that help keep them safe.
The Children’s Society’s #Jointhefightback campaign is calling for politicians of all parties and at all levels of government in to pledge to make this election count for children and young people.
The charity has produced manifestos for representatives in local government, metro mayors and police and crime commissioners.
Some of the charity’s policy recommendations include undertaking regular assessments of children’s well-being in the West Midlands, developing a region-wide child poverty strategy and better coordination of support across the region for children who have been in care.
Chief executive of The Children’s Society, Mark Russell said: “The strain of the past year and the trends of the past decade require us all to think hard about how we can restore children’s hope and optimism.
“We need to consider how we narrow the divides this pandemic has exposed and widened, and address the weaknesses in our society and economy which Covid exploited so successfully. But we also need to do more than just think – we need to act.
“That is why The Children’s Society has set itself the bold and audacious goal to turn around the damaging decline in children’s well-being and set a path for long lasting growth by the end of this decade.
“This isn’t a goal we can achieve alone – it requires politicians in the West Midlands and up and down the country to share our commitment to put children first and prioritise policies that gives every child what they need to live a happy, safe and fulfilling life.”
For more on the campaign visit www.childrenssociety.org.uk/local-election