Current statistics tell us that 3.5 million children are living in poverty in the UK today. That’s approximately one in four children.
Measuring child poverty is complicated and can be done in lots of different ways. It’s widely accepted that the definition of living in poverty is to be living on less than 60% of the country’s median household income before you’ve deducted your housing costs.
A report from the Office of National Statistics shows that the average earnings for a full time worker in the UK was £517 a week in 2013. So any household with one working adult who is earning £310 or less per week would be categorised as living in poverty. Given that the average rent payment in 2013 was £184 per week, that doesn’t leave much for paying bills and buying essential items such as clothes and food. For children and their families, these budgets are tight. Even tighter for those who rely on benefit payments.
Most of us, looking back, probably have good memories of school holidays. A welcome break from the day-to-day classroom work, time to relax with family and friends, maybe go on holiday or just enjoy six weeks of sunshine at home. But for those families who are struggling financially, the holidays bring with them even greater pressure. Children who are normally at school Monday-Friday are at home, needing to be fed, occupied and dressed (because who wants to wear school uniform in the holidays?)
Sam, one of the stars of the documentary that inspired MakeLunch, said that the school holidays added an extra £10 a week to the household budget as his dad had to feed him and his sister. And in 2012, when the Archbishop of Canterbury asked a group of secondary school pupils whether they were looking forward to the summer holidays that were about to start, they said no, because they wouldn’t be able to get their free school meals while the school was closed.
That’s why MakeLunch exists. Because we believe that children should look forward to school holidays rather than worrying about where their food might come from. And because we want parents to look forward to them too. We don't think anybody should be hungry and we’re committed to doing something about it.