Updated: Mar 1
Almost 40,000 children in Milton Keynes are living in poverty. According to the Vital Signs report produced by the Milton Keynes Community Foundation almost one in five children is living on the brink of poverty.
This is unacceptable.
According to Cllr Jane Carr of the Child Poverty Commission at Milton Keynes Council, the reference to poverty is not the type of poverty in the Charles Dickins style of poverty. This is a new type of poverty where parents are working and still cannot make ends meet.
Jade Jayeola, founder of MK Melting Pot draws the link between poverty and crime as she says young people in poverty feel they have to help their families or meet their own needs or keep up with their friends and therefore turn to crime as a solution.
Poverty is no cause for shame
I understand the idea of the 'working poor' because I have been there. I remember when we first moved to Fishermead, our business had just not taken off, in fact it had nose dived the other way. I picked up furniture from the street to place in my home. The day I replaced the garden furniture I had picked up in the streets with furniture I had bought I cried.
We have used the food bank twice to put food in our cupboards and all this while we were working. There was never an instance when we stopped working and waited for hand outs. I received working tax credit but no other benefits. I worked and yet I struggled.
Education is key.
I do not dare to say I have the answer to poverty nor will I dare to attempt to think the solution is the same for everyone, but for me I will say my education has been my way out.
Through education and using that education to innovate and find solutions to the problems I faced I have been able to pull myself out of debt and to a level and more comfortable footing.
Formal education must be accompanied by money management skills, entrepreneurial skills and innovation and creativity must be encouraged.
All hands on deck.
With support services such as the food banks, community fridges, free school meals and others we can continue to help people who need it. We cannot and must never judge but we can all provide a safety net for those who need it.
As a Milton Keynes Councilor I will work with colleagues and other relevant stakeholders across the city to tackle child poverty. One of the ways will include supporting homework clubs which provide free meals to children.
This is our city, our Milton Keynes and there must be a zero tolerance to poverty.