Lessons from the Americas on reducing the impact of poverty on children
Published: 2 Oct 2014
Imogen Moore, Southwark-based London Citizens Community Organiser, has returned from nine weeks in the USA and Brazil. The aim of her trip was to learn lessons for London and the wider community about how to tackle the impact of poverty on children’s health and education.
A publication by the charity Child Action Poverty Group in 2013, reported that children from poorer backgrounds lag behind at all the stages of their education. By the age of 3, poorer children are on average 9 months behind children from wealthier backgrounds. Health is also affected: for example, children born into poverty weigh on average 200 grams less at birth. Southwark is amongst those boroughs that have the highest percentage of low birth weights.
Imogen visited the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York, to understand how they are challenging the negative impact of poverty on children’s health and education, by delivering cradle to career programmes for 12,000 children. She also visited communities along the East Coast that are part of Obama’s flagship Promise Neighbourhood programme, which supports communities to build on the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone.
Imogen believes that, “We need to learn from these communities where schools, faith, community groups and GP surgeries are pulling together to tackle the impact of poverty on children’s health and education in a systematic way. Their results were impressive…can we afford not to try in the UK?”
Together with community leaders in Camberwell and Walworth, Imogen is exploring how a Promise Neighbourhood model could benefit children growing up there.
They are currently focusing on a project together with the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. It aims to prevent risk factors associated with living in low-income neighbourhoods, for pregnant women and new mums, by providing peer-to-peer social support and health and education workshops. Guys and St Thomas’s Foundation funded the pilot, and they are hoping to be able to expand it with further funding.