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Lobby politicians to act against child poverty, RCN members tell college

Nurse activists highlight effects of socioeconomic disadvantage on children and families

Nurse activists highlight effects of socioeconomic disadvantage on children and families


Picture: iStock

Nurses have called on UK governments to do more to tackle child poverty.

RCN congress voted last week to ask the college's council to lobby ministers over acting to stem the rise in child poverty.

A 2018 report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found 4.1 million UK children are living in poverty, up 500,000 since 2011-12. The charity makes the point that poverty can have a severe effect on physical and mental health.

Risks to physical and mental health

Nursing student Clare Manley spoke of her own experience of studying while raising four children.

She told congress: ‘My husband works part-time as he is the carer for my son, who has an autism diagnosis, and I’m a student nurse.

‘My children get free school meals. These are unhealthy and the money that is given does not allow them to make a healthy choice – we top it up.

‘The pressure on children – school work, social media and the 100 mile-an-hour world in which we live, means mental health issues affect all children and those in poverty more.’


Dean McShane. 
Picture: John Houlihan

Schoolchildren go hungry

Dean McShane of Cheshire West RCN branch said now is the time to take a stand against poverty in childhood.

He spoke of his shock when he found out a child of one of his patients had rickets.

He said: ‘Why have we got this pandemic of poverty in which children are going into schools hungry?’


Roderick Thompson. 
Picture: John Houlihan

Roderick Thomson, of the RCN mental health forum, cautioned against seeing child poverty as an urban problem and urged the audience to remember it exists in rural areas too.

He called on congress to look at ‘the entirety of the population’.

Read full coverage of RCN congress 2019


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