A Bramley & Stanningley councillor has called Leeds teachers the ‘fourth emergency service’ for children who are living in poverty, writes Richard Beecham.
The comments came during a discussion on the council’s new child poverty strategy, which was adopted late last year and claimed more than 30,000 children in the city were now living below the breadline.
Coun Julie Heselwood (Lab) told a full Leeds City Council meeting that teachers in the city were having to bring in uniform, shoes and even food for poverty-stricken pupils. She said:
“Children living in poverty is a long-standing problem but it has nearly doubled in the last decade.
“It means going to bed hungry and cold, not being able to do your homework and children crying at the end of the day because they don’t want to go home to a cold house.”
She added that examples of teachers having to intervene include:
“Buying uniform and shoes, bringing in food for children at lunchtimes and helping them deal with the emotional impacts of poverty.”
She concluded: “Teachers in Leeds have become the fourth emergency service for many of these children and families.”
The authority’s child poverty strategy was approved by decision makers in November 2019. It claimed a fifth of children in the city were living in poverty.
The council’s executive member for children and families Cllr Fiona Venner (Lab, Kirkstall) said:
“There are more food banks than branches of McDonalds. It is shocking that that is the world young people are now growing up in.
“It was depressingly predictable that there was nothing in the queens speech about tackling poverty.”