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Diocese of Salford sees 24% increase in child poverty, in 2023

Child poverty shoes

Ralf Geithe | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 07/02/23

"We’ve seen that in the appalling increase in the number of children experiencing poverty in the last 12 months."

The Catholic Diocese of Salford, in England, is bringing attention to an alarming cost-of-living crisis that has led to a 24% increase in children living in poverty. Now the diocese is joining with Caritas Salford for a summer appeal to the government, demanding immediate action and aid to the people of Salford.

According to data published by Loughborough University on behalf of the End Child Poverty Coalition in June, there has been a marked increase in children living in impoverished households. The numbers have become staggering, with 302,158 children within the diocese considered impoverished, a figure that has risen by 73,303 since June of 2022.

Patrick O’Dowd, director of Caritas Salford, has been a leading voice in urging the government to intercede on the troubling trend towards poverty. He noted that “talk and rhetoric” will not help anyone in need, and called on city leaders to “act immediately to try and reverse this near catastrophic situation many people are finding themselves in.”

O’Dowd went on to explain that the reality of the situation may be even worse than the numbers suggest. He said the Loughborough University’s figures are likely “only the tip of a very large iceberg,” and lamented that people are already becoming numb to the phrase “cost-of-living crisis.” 

“It’s almost as if people are now so used to hearing the words ‘cost-of-living-crisis’ that it has lost any tangible meaning when repeated in the press or in parliament. But the crisis is certainly real and it’s only going to get worse if things don’t change. We’ve seen that in the appalling increase in the number of children experiencing poverty in the last twelve months and this terrible spiral will continue if action isn’t taken right now.”

He went on to suggest actions that could be taken to ease the financial burden of impoverished families. These included policy changes like ending the two-child limit on benefits, increasing access to free meals in school, and encouraging employers to pay “the real living wage.” When discussing the works of Caritas Salford to counter the increase in poverty, O’Dowd painted a picture of a desperate situation: 

“Every day, families come to us who are struggling and having to make heart-breaking decisions on what they can and can’t afford to provide for their children. Often, people who work one or two jobs are having to come to us to use our showers, for example, as they aren’t able to afford the utility bills to wash at home. Those who can’t afford shampoo for their young children, or those going without a meal to enable their youngest family members to eat instead.”

He reiterated Caritas Salford’s commitment to lending aid to the people of Salford and called on all people of good will to support their works, be it by donations of money, time, and supplies, or by making their voices heard. 

Bishop John Arnold supported Caritas Salford’s campaign, calling the significant rise in child poverty “unacceptable.” The prelate called for protections to ensure the human dignity of all people in Salford. 

“These latest statistics from our diocese are truly heartbreaking and, while Caritas is working hard on the ground to support people in our communities who need help at this extremely challenging time in our history, true change will only happen by everyone coming together for the greater good and driving forward immediate change. It’s imperative that happens now to ensure that hard-working families across Greater Manchester, Lancashire and beyond can live in a way that is dignified – a way that every adult and child deserves.”

Learn more about Caritas Salford’s efforts to end child poverty here.

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