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MORE children will be going hungry and without warm clothing this Christmas than last year, teachers believe.
A disturbing picture of increasing numbers of children turning up at school hungry, cold and without warm clothing has been painted in a poll of teachers by Britain’s biggest teaching union.
The National Education Union (NEU) poll found that 63 per cent of respondents were worried that more children than last year will be going hungry over Christmas.
Fifty-nine per cent believe that more children this year compared with last Christmas will be without warm clothing.
More than one in 10 teachers said their schools will be taking steps to support families over Christmas, including opening foodbanks and collecting for presents, clothes and food hampers.
The overwhelming majority of teachers – 90 per cent – said the next government must prioritise ending child poverty.
NEU joint general secretary Mary Bousted said: “At a time of year when children should be excitedly looking forward to the holidays, thousands are facing a bleak Christmas without enough food or warm clothing.
“Teachers see the impact poverty has on our children and young people on a daily basis. It is no surprise that the majority of members believe the next government must end child poverty when they witness its impact on pupils day in day out.
“In the fifth richest country in the world, we should not still be hearing the same harrowing stories from teachers worried about whether their students will have access to a hot dinner during their two-week break.”
Sue McMahon of the Northern Campaign Against School Cuts said: “Children are arriving at school with inadequate clothing, holes in their shoes, and hungry.
“How can they possibly learn when they are so hungry?
“School staff are funding hungry children out of their own pockets.”
Charity Holiday Hunger said that three million children are at risk of going hungry during school holidays.
Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “Poverty harms children’s wellbeing, their life chances and the wider economy.
“Investing in children’s benefits and bringing in a child poverty strategy must be the number one priority for whichever party forms the next government.”
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