What Can We do About Child Poverty in Leeds?

Since I posted my blog on Poor Kids in Leeds I have been asked again and again what can we do about it?

Seems that people aren’t satisfied by the platitudes of writing to councillors and MPs or throwing a fiver at the usual charities – they want to do something.

One of the things that we can do is get a group together, get more informed about what is already being done in the city, and come up with innovative ideas and suggestions for more things that we can do.

So if you can offer a little time to help please leave a comment below.

If you have any specific skills or knowledge that you can offer, or other resources that might be useful, like meeting rooms for example, then please do mention that too.

Everyone can help with this.  We are not necessarily looking for specialist knowledge and skills (lets face it ‘the professionals’ have hardly got this one covered), we are just looking for people that give a damn and can offer time and imagination.

So please sign up using the comment form below if you want to have a bash at this. If you would rather not go public with your skills and other offers then just drop me an email.

On October 14th we will be holding an Innovation Lab to explore how we might Disrupt Poverty in Leeds.  You can find out more about this event here.

You might also want to have a poke around here for further ideas about what can be done http://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/what-you-can-do

NB Although I talk about Leeds I am sure that we will have very fuzzy boundaries and anyone from anywhere would be welcome to join us….

42 Replies to “What Can We do About Child Poverty in Leeds?”

    1. Cheers Mike. We can figure out the ‘what’ bit between us. Anyone at the university doing interesting work in this area? Would be good to get some learned academics involved….

  1. I am a virtual supporter Mike because I live in London but this is such an important issue. I am also keen to explore how we can mobilise community support through social media whether in Leeds or London. How about posting the idea on Simpl the social innovation marketplace? http://simpl.co/

  2. Hi Mike – Interested in joining this. Keen to put in some of the work we are doing in this area with young people adults and families. – Sign me up please.

  3. The following is an excerpt from a Johann Hari article. I believe it has profound consequences for children from vulnerable backgrounds, as social segregation clearly impacts the ability of these kids to rise out of poverty.

    “There is an alternative – and it has been demonstrated best in, of all places, the city of Raleigh, North Carolina. Ten years ago, their school system was in a familiar mess, and they passed a simple law to try to solve it. No school could have more than 40 percent of its kids on free school meals, or 25 percent of who were a grade or more below their expected level in reading or maths. Suddenly, the kids who needed most help wouldn’t be lumped together. Kids like Connor and Angelique would be broken up and spread out across the school system, where schools could give them the attention they needed.

    The results were startling. Within a decade, Raleigh went from one of the worst-performing districts in America to one of the best. The test scores of poor kids doubled, while those of wealthier children also saw a slight increase. Teenage pregnancies, crime and high school drop-out rates fell substantially. Conor and Angelique would have been in a playground where the dynamic discouraged their bad behaviour, and would have had teachers with the time to figure out what was wrong. They built a genuinely comprehensive school system – and it worked. Yet David Cameron is taking Britain in the opposite direction: look at how hard some of his new “free” schools have fought to keep council estates and poor kids out of their feeder schools. They will deepen segregation, not end it.”

  4. Hi Mike- sign me up please 🙂 I coordinate the volunteering programme for a health/wellbeing charity in Leeds so can offer you a team of volunteers plus knowledge around reaching hard to engage families/children. Meeting room also available as well as office space and a new empty shop in West Leeds!

  5. Mike, thanks for highlighting this incredibly important issue and I do feel that we all could and should do so much more to help those children who are stuck in poverty with seemingly no way out.

    If you feel that there is anything that I can do as the MP for Leeds North West, please contact me on info@gregmulholland.org.

  6. Hi Mike

    More than happy to give some time over to this if you can use me. I’m a graphic designer and not really suited to the hands-on stuff but if I can be of help with communications / raising awareness, etc. let me know. Andy.

  7. As I mentioned on Twitter, I’ll help in any way I can. Not entirely sure what skills I can bring, but I’ll bring bags of enthusiasm! Well done with this Mike.

  8. Leeds born girl, now property lawyer in york.saw and was shocked and ashamed by the programme. Willing to help and support in any way. Happy to canvas support in north Yorkshire too.

  9. Mike, I will love to offer my support. I’ve made redundant recently from my post as a youth work Manager, so plenty time on my hands (when I’m not job hunting). Diane

  10. Count me in Mike. Unfortunately, I wasn’t shocked by the programme and know that there is much worse (that could not be broadcast). However, it did remind me that I need to step up a gear and be much more proactive and focussed on what I care about most! Thanks for the opportunity to help DO something 🙂

    I particularly enjoy facilitating large-scale workshops (using Open Space, Appreciative Inquiry, Solutions Focus type stuff) to build on what is ALREADY working (‘cos something always is) – and to help people work across silos. I’d be especially interested in facilitating an event for middle managers across the public sector and voluntary sector. Bristol LSP experimented with this a couple of years ago and it was amazing what can actually be done once people realise they have more power than they realise – and don’t have to wait for specific direction from senior management to change stuff.

    Anyway – if an organisation could provide a space, I’d be happy to facilitate or co-facilitate. Or if there is something else that would be more useful, please just ask.

    Ems x

  11. Happy to get involved Mike, Burley Lodge could offer a venue potentially. I’m afraid the progamme was no big surprise. The unfortunate thing in Leeds is that we have a tendancy to try and find a way to make the statistics go away rather than try to do anything to address the root causes of child poverty in the city.

  12. Sign me up. Skills base… educator, arts, mental health voluntary work, mentoring, key & life skills, running (sports?), writing, design, crafts, project management, dogsbody, gopher, gardening, working hard, cooking & nutrition…

  13. Mike
    I would definitely be interested in getting involved. Skills base – run Community websites (AboutMyArea) in LS7 and LS8 – so could help raise awareness there?
    Jo Densley

  14. Hi Mike, I did not see the programme but one of my daughters tearfully related the content to me and I am keen to be involved in any way that will help ….and I am sure we can use the meeting room here at Milun, (will just need to ok it first)
    Children should be cherished and are the responsibility of every adult …… its a true saying in Africa that …….’It takes a whole village to raise a child’…….

    Averil MacGillivray

  15. Hi Mike,

    Count me in, its appalling a country such as ours lets people get to the level shown in the documentary. It was a real eye opener.


  16. Mike, count me in. I’ve just become a trustee of a local childrens charity. Feel very strongly about this issue, hope we can improve things. Thanks for bringing people together, Tom.

  17. Hi Mike
    I’m one of the lucky ones who found a way out of poverty so i’m up for helping out where I can. Might be able to get use of hall where I have an office in Roundhay. If not i’ll hire it anyway to get it started.

    1. Much appreciated Richard! I have had several offers for a venue, so at the moment that is not the big challenge. However we may need to get hold of some AV kit….

      Perhaps we can have a coffee some time to see how we can best use your knowledge and skills to help the process along?

  18. Hi Mike,

    My name is Lauren Stewart, I’m a trainee journalist in Leeds and am trying to do something on the child poverty issue in our city. I would love to have an interview with you and also any one else who is making a difference, like you are.

    If your interested, it would be great to meet up with you, and any others like yourself, this week or early next. Give me a ring on 07740123803 or email me at stewart.laurenj@gmail.com

    Thank you,


  19. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for your articles. I work for a children’s charity, Kidz Klub Leeds, which works with 2,000 children a week from the areas and backgrounds you outline. You are right to highlight the appalling reality of poverty in the lives of many children in Leeds and the UK. You are also right to highlight that poverty is both a bank balance thing and a state of mind, a sort of estate culture of low self-esteem, low sense of self worth and lack of aspirations.

    The answers to child poverty in the UK are going to be many and will not always work in all areas and with all people. But key to confronting it is being prepared to walk with children and families for the long term to try to break this culture, to halt the cycle of deprivation mind set – both of those who live in such areas and those who view it from the outside. The children we work with are incredible young people, with enormous potential. If people on a large scale are willing to give of themselves over the long term, we can turn this around.

    It’s time to give up on the idea that we can employ people to solve this problem. It’s time to give up on the idea that this is someone else’s problem. If it’s in our city it is all our problem, all of our responsibility.

    Looking forward to the 14th Oct.

    Owen McCarthy

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