Monday, July 22, 2013

Over 3.5 million children in poverty in UK

Childrens Society 2013

The Children’s Society: The Heart of the Kingdom

Nigel Varndell, the Director of Church Partnerships at The Children’s Society writes:
The current programme of welfare reform has pushed issues of poverty back into the public consciousness. There are over 3.5 million children in poverty, 27% of children in the UK, and that figure set to rise by hundreds of thousands in coming years. Against this background much of the public debate over child poverty has centred on whether feckless parents or cuts to welfare are more to blame; a descent into tit for tat political point scoring between left and right that has generated much more heat than light.
What has been much less in evidence in the public debate is a clear vision of what kind of society we want our children to grow up in. And, if we really want children to grow up without the scourge of poverty, what roles should the government, the church or the family play? It is this kind of debate to which the church is uniquely placed to contribute. Unencumbered by a five year political cycle or the need to pander to popular, but frequently ill-informed public opinion, the church can place the narrow and urgent debates about welfare into a wider context of the role of society in the face of rapidly deepening poverty and inequality.
But if the church, both local and national, wants to get involved in the struggle against child poverty then it needs to answer a range of connected theological questions in order to know how and when to get involved.
Is the retreat of the state an immoral abdication of their responsibilities to citizens or the reassertion of the appropriate role of civil society in areas where the government has no right to intrude? Are our attempts to ‘help the poor’ nothing more than a naïve paternalism that denies the reciprocity that should be at the heart of human relationships? Can a public rhetoric of deserving and undeserving poor ever be justified in Christian debate?
In an attempt to answer some of these questions The Children’s Society has published The Heart of the Kingdom, Christian theology and children who live in poverty – a collection of essays from theologians, academics and practitioners that aims to shed light on the current debate around child poverty. With essays by Revd Canon Dr Angus Ritchie, Professor John Millbank and Krish Kandiah, the collection brings a range of different church perspectives to issues. The collection is available free of charge on The Children’s Society website, to anyone who wants to deepen their understanding.
And if you want to find out more about child poverty, visit The Children’s Society stall in the G-Source at Greenbelt this year.