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Challenging child poverty in West Cumbria

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Councillors, organisations and residents come together at UCLan to tackle key issues

Child poverty in West Cumbria is being put under the spotlight by local councillors, organisations and residents.

The University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Westlakes Campus brought together 17 councillors alongside several local agencies to encourage those with influence to actively challenge ongoing problems facing young people in West Cumbria.

This included representatives from Allerdale Borough Council, Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County Council alongside Cumbria Community Foundation, Howgill Family Centre, Children’s Services, Victoria Infant School, Barnardo’s and UCLan.

Many councillors highlighted that one of the main concerns of their residents was poor quality housing and the difficulty in communicating with housing associations as well as noting direct links between mental health, substance abuse and child poverty.  The also said the austerity has had a significant impact on services across sectors, with families in poverty suffering the most.  However, despite the multiple challenges young people face in the area, local third sector services were keen to highlight that there also lots of success stories, with young people succeeding against the odds, and that we mustn't ignore this.

The round table was a great opportunity to host an event at the Westlakes Campus, bringing together a range of people, across sectors, for an open and honest to discussion about child poverty.

The event was hosted by UCLan’s Applied Policy Science Unit West Cumbria Child Poverty Forum’s (WCCPF), which is based at the UCLan campus at Westlakes Science and Technology Park in West Cumbria.  

WCCPF Chairman Willie Slavin said: “Child poverty in parts of West Cumbria is a significant issue with serious implications for the whole community. This particular event offered those key players, who share a common concern, an opportunity to network and develop a clearer understanding of the pressing needs, as a platform for more effective working across the community.”

Suzanne Wilson, Research Fellow in Social Exclusion and Community Development from the WCCPF, said: “The round table was a great opportunity to host an event at the Westlakes Campus, bringing together a range of people, across sectors, for an open and honest to discussion about child poverty. It also allowed us to showcase the innovative research being undertaken at the campus, and help raise the profile of the campus in the local community. We look forward to hosting similar events in the future."

The event was sponsored by Cumbria Community Foundation and the Samuel Lindow Foundation. UCLan will publish a report, sponsored by the Samuel Lindow Foundation, detailing what was discussed in the meeting, which will be publically available in 2018.  

Lyndsey Boardman | 28 September 2017