With the recent forecast from the Institute of Fiscal Studies that 37% of children in the UK will be living in relative poverty by 2022, it was timely for the latest RCPCH 'Hot Topics' Event to focus on Child Poverty. This was held on the 25th October 2017 in London and organised in collaboration with BACAPH and the Child Poverty Action Group.
This event was prompted by a joint report launched earlier this year by the RCPCH and CPAG examining the links between poverty and child health. The report, which analysed survey responses from over 250 RCPCH members, found that more than two-thirds of paediatricians surveyed said poverty and low income contribute ‘very much’ to the ill health of children they work with. This statistic, though alarming, is in line with the key finding from the RCPCH’s landmark State of Child Health report, which revealed that children from the UK’s most disadvantaged areas have much worse health outcomes compared with their more affluent peers.
The day started with an overview of these reports, complemented by insights from a parent living in poverty who spoke movingly and eloquently about the stress, anxiety and other effects this has on the lives of herself and her family. We then heard about the history of child poverty action in the UK from Kitty Stewart of the LSE - from the historic commitment to eradicate child poverty in a generation by Tony Blair in 1999 to current government action which is likely to increase, rather than decrease child poverty, as the IFS report illustrates. We then heard from innovative projects from around the UK looking to mediate and tackle the effects of child poverty through work in education, housing and communities.
In the afternoon, BACAPH held a workshop looking to further develop our resource on action that local practitioners can take . We heard from inspiring presenters to stimulate discussion on local action. John Patterson, Medial Director of Hope Citadel Healthcare talked about their innovative focused care model which recognises that the circumstances in which people are living are as important contributors to their health as getting the right treatment. Claire Driffield, Health and Care lead at the Citizens Advice Bureau also explained more about the important work that they do in the area of welfare rights and debt advice. Dominic Patterson who is Director of Public Health at Blackburn with Darwen spoke inspiringly about the role of public health in tackling child poverty and gave some interesting examples of work they are doing. We then had some interesting discussion on actions that individuals will take as a result of the workshop and event as well as suggestions to improve the resource.
BACAPH has worked wth CPAG to develop local actions which can be found here :Actions
The day ended with a look at current and future trends and a call to action - the RCPCH has launched a campaign to get in touch with your MP here.
BACAPH is continuing to work in this important area - if you'd like to get involved please do get in touch!