Children go hungry as parents face debt crisis

SOME parents in Hemel Hempstead are so hard up they are unable to provide their little ones with three square meals a day.

Mums and dads facing mounting debt scrap nutritious ‘good’ foods such as fruit for cheaper unhealthy alternatives in a bid to claw back cash.

Debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty is seeing more cases and is currently working with around 70 struggling families in Dacorum.

Centre manager Owen Cooper said: “They will pay the creditors first over buying decent food for their family.

“They are going without. They are not having proper food – it is very rare you see fruit in the household. People will buy cheap biscuits instead.

“I’m extremely worried because I think it can affect the well-being of children in the long term.”

In response to the crisis the good cause is launching a food bank in September, which will provide emergency packages containing three days’ worth of meals to families.

The initiative is being run in partnership with homelessness charity Dacorum Emergency Night Shelter and national poverty organisation the Trussell Trust.

Mr Cooper hopes to reach out to thousands of people in need and wants businesses, schools and other groups to get on-board.

“It is Hemel Hempstead people helping Hemel Hempstead people,” he said.

A recent nationwide survey by Christians Against Poverty found that more than half of the respondents with children said their debt affected their ability to provide for their youngsters and a third said they were unable to give them three meals a day.

“I met a lady two weeks ago whose son is 18 and at college and she said he has lost so much weight because they can’t afford to give him decent food,” said Mr Cooper.

He puts the growing problem down to relationship break-ups, the current economic climate and the structure of the benefits system, which he says leaves people confused about what they are entitled to.

“We are certainly going to get busier,” said Mr Cooper.

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