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West tops child poverty league

By Staff Reporter

West Belfast has the highest rate of child poverty in the whole of the north, according to shock figures in a new ‘deprivation map’.
The Campaign to End Child Poverty, an umbrella group made up of 150 organisations including children’s charities and child welfare organisations, have released stats that show more than 20 per cent of children in West Belfast are living in poverty – the highest figure across the six counties.
The research showed that Colin Glen, Falls and Whiterock were identified as the worst affected areas in the West of the city.
The figures are in contrast to other constituency areas such as South Antrim and North Down, where child poverty levels are around half of that in West Belfast.
Manager of Falls Women’s Centre, Susan McCrory, who works with families across West Belfast, said the new report mirrors what they are seeing on the ground in the area.
She pointed to unem-ployment, low wages and a high cost of living as the cause of why many local kids are living in poverty.
“We have 139 women enrolled in our programmes and 99 per cent of them are unemployed,” she said.
“The women either have children or are older women whose children have children and they are feeling the effects of that. It’s not just people on benefits too, it’s the low salary levels.
“There are women on very low incomes who have a child, a mortgage or rent to pay, bills and are trying to hold down a job. They are living hand to mouth, wage to wage, they can’t put money away for a rainy day because there isn’t any spare.”
Susan said for the first time ever the centre is collecting used baby equipment to give to local families.

“People give us clothes, prams, carry cots, and we keep them here to give to people who need them. This is the first time we’ve ever done it. We are looking at new ways to help women.”
She said in today’s tough economic climate families are struggling to provide for their children and often turn to desperate measures.
“My concern is that families live under pressure all the time. Particularly now coming up to Christmas no one wants to see their children go without so they are getting into debt, using expensive payday loans and putting things on credit cards.
“People are in very difficult situations so this report doesn’t surprise me.”
The report and detailed map was compiled for End Child Poverty by researchers in the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Lough-borough University.

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