Drive to tackle rise in childhood poverty in Chippenham
3:00pm Friday 21st March 2014 in By Julie Armstrong, Senior reporter
A child poverty forum is being set up to combat a growing problem affecting 1,207 youngsters in the Chippenham area.
This area, which includes villages from Nettleton across to Seagry, has 11.4 per cent of children living in poverty.
Now Chippenham Area Board has decided to develop its Child Poverty Forum, including an event to let people know about free resources, activities and support available.
The Rise Trust, Barnardos and GreenSquare Housing Group have pledged their help.
Wiltshire Council’s Joint Strategic Assessment, published in January, reported 112 more children living below the poverty line than in 2008.
The Chippenham area has pockets of relative affluence as well as deprivation, with levels of child poverty ranging from 2.1 per cent to 32.7 per cent.
Eleven of its 144 census areas in 2011 were among England’s 20 per cent with the highest percentage of households experiencing high levels of deprivation.
Two-thirds of households in the Hill Corner Road, Hill Rise and Oaklands area and Redland, Patchway and Brook Street area are classed as deprived, against half of Wiltshire’s households and 57.5 per cent in England.
Councillor Chris Caswill, on the group developing the plan to tackle to problem, said: “At seventh worst in Wiltshire, these numbers are not the highest in the county but they are still alarmingly high.
“And it is reasonable to assume they will be getting worse in the present climate of welfare reforms.”
Town councillor Melody Thompson, who runs a recruitment agency, said creating jobs was key to eradicating poverty.
She said: “It’s about attracting more businesses and creating jobs. Jobs are at the heart of tackling poverty, adult or child.”
Forum ideas include funding for breakfast clubs in schools, although Mrs Thompson said: “I’m told the biggest problem is that the children who really need a breakfast club are the ones who never arrive at school on time.”
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