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What you can do

There are lots of ways  in which individuals and public, private and voluntary sector organisations in the north east can support the poverty pledge. Some examples and ideas of how you can help are below:

Individuals

  • become a Child Poverty Champion. Talk to friends and colleagues about how inequality affects us all and how improving the income of a family can improve health and increase aspiration in children and young people. Encourage your contacts to sign the declaration.
  • understand the issues, causes and effects of child poverty Poverty does not only affect other parts of the world such as Africa, there is real poverty here too. Poverty can be caused by many things such as long term mental health issues in a family, disability or lack of basic skills to work.
  • demonstrate your personal commitmentsign the declaration and share with us what you have learnt or how you have contributed.

Public sector

  • Get involved in your local Child Poverty Board or Steering Group. All Local Authorities must complete a Needs Assessment on Child Poverty and a Strategy. Relevant partners should be involved such as health organisations, housing providers, the police, transport providers, children’s services, Jobcentre Plus to ensure that there is effective action plan. Find out how to contribute
  • Professional development and staff training. All public sector organisations should ensure their staff understand the implications of child poverty in their work. Staff can be more effective if they are provided with the opportunity to understand the communities they work with. Read more on training staff who work with families or work in areas of deprivation contact
  • Develop a Think Family Approach. Get into the habit of thinking about the effect of policies on the wider family, siblings and parents, grandparents or other carers. Work closely with colleagues from different departments and sectors, and share information appropriately. Put the family at the centre of all your work:
New Silksworth Infant School has developed a family centred approach to learning. A DVD has been produced showing how this was achieved featuring contributions from staff, parents and the children themselves. The process started with an all staff training day which identified that the children should be at the centre of learning through a teacher, child and family philosophy. Through this the school has developed different expertise including areas such as health. The school provides a completely flexible service across daycare, nursery and the main school. Through this provision, staff maintain contact with parents and families which is seen as part of the service but also enables the early signs of family difficulties to be picked up. In response to some of these issues, staff have also developed local agreements with other service providers e.g. Jobcentre Plus who come into the school to deliver training and other advisory services directly to parents and carers. Staff have also been successful in getting parents to contribute to school policy and practice through informal coffee mornings. An example of this is the introduction of a ‘healthy packed lunch’ policy which was developed with direct input from parents.

Private sector

  • Employment conditions Staff should be supported by fair policies, considering their needs as well as the needs of the business. Consult staff on how can making work be more family friendly (flexi time and term time only working or childcare in the holidays). The benefits for you can be a reduction in casual sickness, improved retention, productivity, improved recruitment, morale and commitment. Read more on family friendly policies.
  • An ‘above minimum wage’ policy Those most at risk from low pay are the young and single but a third have dependent children. About 14% of low paid employees live in poor households so being in work makes a big difference. Ensure that they have accessed the benefits and tax credits they are entitled. For more information see www.jrf.org.uk
  • Opportunities for employees to train and develop skills. Be proactive in training all staff and providing opportunities for progression and promotion in work. Some employees who are older or who have low levels of literacy and numeracy or poor self esteem this can be challenging but opportunities should be explored for all staff.
  • Financial Advice Display free information that is available through voluntary sector organisations or Local Authorities which provides advice around debt issues, loan sharks, budgeting and banking. Invite someone from your local welfare rights service or Citizens Advice Bureau to talk to staff. Credit Unions are a good way for people to gain money management skills by saving for events like holidays and unexpected expenditure. For a good practice example Wearside first credit union.

Voluntary sector

  • Support volunteers and volunteering Volunteering is an excellent way to encourage the long term unemployed back into work and for people to gain confidence and new skills. Make sure that you support volunteers as they develop and encourage them to pursue employment opportunities. Facilitate contact between volunteers and employment support such as CV writing available for free through Welfare Rights services.
  • Recruitment policies Look at ways to target recruitment for posts in areas where there is high unemployment or at groups who are more at risk of being in poverty. Think about schemes to support young people into work who have with complex issues, or parents who are recovering alcoholics or have been in prison.
  • Provide flexible working arrangements for staff Look at working arrangements with staff so that staff with family commitments do not suffer additional stress. Ensure that there are plans for staff who have to take emergency leave for family reasons can do so.

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