Belfast Telegraph

Pauline’s a step closer to helping end child poverty

by Natalie Irvine

A local woman is one step closer in her aim to help eradicate child poverty in Europe.

Pauline Leeson, originally from Knockbreda and director of Children in Northern Ireland, (CiNI), that is based in Montgomery Road, east Belfast — has been appointed to the management board of Eurochild, Europe’s largest umbrella network on children’s rights and welfare.

Pauline is the only person from the UK on the board. The move will ensure that local children’s sector issues can be raised at European level.

Mrs Leeson said: “I am very excited and honoured by the appointment. However, I do not underestimate the extent of the challenge that faces all of us if we are to eradicate child poverty in this generation.

“Across the EU one in five children lives at-risk-of poverty. Seven out of ten of them will end up as adults living at-risk-of poverty. In the face of massive public debt difficult decisions need to be made, but we strongly believe that investment in children, and the earlier the better, has to be sustained and reinforced.”

The appointment also coincides with local Government beginning work on a Child Poverty Strategy. Following the introduction of the UK wide Child Poverty Act, which aims to ensure Government meets its target of eradicating child poverty by 2020, the strategy is a legal requirement.

CiNI and its 140 member organisations want to work with Government departments to develop spending plans for the next four years that can target and lift the 43,000 children who live in severe poverty out of poverty once and for all.

Pauline adds: “Limited resources cannot be an excuse for failing to meet our targets.

“In the aftermath of the emergency budget which is going to have a dramatic impact on Northern Ireland’s poorest children and families.

“Ministers need to look at how their plans can assist in eradicating child poverty and tailor their bids for the autumn spending review accordingly.

“The association with Eurochild presents an opportunity for children’s organisations across Europe to mobilise as a force to ensure that governments do not lose sight of the poorest children Europe’s future depends on the extent to which its children grow up happy, healthy, well-educated, safe and self-confident.

“Breaking the chain of poverty in childhood can generate massive savings in the future.”

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