18 November 2018
33% of children in the UK are living in poverty, according to the latest figures from the Social Metrics Commission (SMC) – that’s an astonishing 4.5 million children.
A third of an entire generation is living without their most basic of needs being met. When you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a stable home with warmth, food and drink is the very foundation of wellbeing. How can these young people be expected to grow up with self-esteem, a sense of belonging and wanting to be all that they can possibly be, if that’s built on an unsteady foundation? Reading these numbers is simply heart-breaking.
This time of year has always been a time in which the UKFast team steps up its community work. Whilst Christmas is a time of giving, for families and for making wonderful memories, this is not always the case for many people. The families of those one in three children are no doubt under huge strain to deliver a Christmas like ‘everyone else’. It’s honestly unimaginable to think of not being able to provide a present or Christmas dinner for your children.
It would be easy to assume that these children are living below the breadline because of so-called ‘Benefits Britain’, but in fact, one in eight of the UK workforce (3.7 million people) are living in poverty. People are working hard but still living below the breadline.
How can that be? As employers it’s essential that we protect our teams. It’s estimated that the number of people in the UK on zero-hour contracts rose from 200,000 in 2000 to a million this year. How can people provide for their families without a guaranteed, steady income? I cannot understand the need for zero-hour contracts. It’s unacceptable and unnecessary.
Research shows that those growing up in hardship are more likely to have poor health and lack qualifications later in life. Terrifyingly, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) predicts that the number of children living in poverty will soar to a record 5.2 million by 2022.
I don’t profess to have the answer or understand the cause – there are so many factors and so many variables. Everyone has a different opinion on the reasons why our poverty numbers are this high and how we can help. But one thing is for sure, we have to do something to change it.
This year, Gail and I appointed a new role at UKFast – Director of CSR. Someone to focus our efforts to make the biggest, most long-lasting impact on the people around us. Russell joined us just before the summer and has already made an extraordinary impact. We were incredibly proud to receive the Pride of Manchester award this weekend in recognition of the work we’ve put in to help those in need in our community.
So what’s Russell’s remit? To concentrate our CSR efforts on underprivileged young people aged 0-18 years. This has seen the team volunteering at a number of different charities including Everyone Can – a gaming charity to make videogames accessible for children of all abilities.
We have also funded around 20,000 meals for children and families across Greater Manchester during the summer holidays. These children would normally receive free school meals, but without that availability in the school holidays, many families find it hard to fund the meals themselves. Thanks to Bolton Lads and Girls Club, Manchester Youth Zone and One Manchester, we were able to help these families out by providing meals for these children.
We also launched a Breakfast Club at a school right around the corner from UKFast Campus. Hearing that there simply wasn’t the funding for the breakfast club anymore and there’d been a huge dropout once a 20p per day charge was introduced, we offered our help.
Make a difference
I don’t write this to showcase what we’ve done as a business so far, rather as an example to show how big an impact you can have with small gestures. Helping out charities and people in their time of need doesn’t have to mean splashing out huge donations, it can be as simple as giving up a few hours of your time instead or adding a little extra onto your shopping list.
So, this year, we’re supporting Wood Street Mission’s Christmas campaign. They take in donations of new toys and create a ‘shop’ for parents who are experiencing a time of need to select toys to give their children on Christmas morning. They even supply the wrapping paper and gift bags. Donating just one toy gives a child a gift to open on Christmas morning, and a parent or guardian the memories of seeing their child’s face light up as they unwrap it.
It’s an opportunity to give something priceless to families who are really struggling. Nothing can beat making memories together, especially at Christmastime.
I am incredibly proud of the UKFast team for wholeheartedly getting behind this campaign. They’re donating, volunteering and promoting with all they’ve got!
If you’re in the area, stop by the UKFast Campus with a toy donation to pop into our Santa’s sleigh and make a real difference to people right on our doorstep.