A campaign has been launched by The Children’s Society calling for candidates standing for election in Wales on Thursday 6th May 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 analysis shows that out of the 904,928 children living in the Wales there are approximately 200,000 who live in poverty, and around 70,000 of these children are not eligible for free school meals (1) Around 7,015 children and young people in Wales are also missing out on mental health treatment (2).
The charity, which publishes The Good Childhood Report each year, has found 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 to pledge to make this election count for children and young people. The charity has produced manifestos for candidates standing to become Members of the Senedd.
Some of the charity’s policy recommendations include committing to invest in community-based emotional well-being and mental health support, enable all children of Universal Credit claimants to be eligible for Free School Meals, commit to long-term investment in the Discretionary Assistance Fund, and a Wales-wide strategy for tackling child criminal exploitation.
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 Wales 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 information on the campaign or how to pledge support visit childrenssociety.org.uk/local-election