Belfast Telegraph

Charity receives requests for food

Children are asking Barnardos for food because there is not enough to feed them at home, the charity has revealed.

The campaigners have also warned that parents are taking sick children to pharmacists rather than the doctor because they cannot afford medical fees.

In a pre-Budget report called Dreading December 2010, Barnardos warned further welfare cuts could force families to cut meat from their shopping or go without one full meal a week.

Carmel O'Donovan, project co-ordinator with the children's organisation, admitted many families were already struggling before the economic crisis.

She said: "More children are going hungry - some of our services are being asked by children if they can take food home for later because there just isn't enough at home.

"We have encountered families who are now going to the pharmacy to try to get diagnoses because they can't afford to go to the doctor.

"Families applying for medical cards can wait up to six months before being approved or receiving the card.

"In the interim they are having to think carefully before they attend a doctor - weighing up the risk to the child's health versus the implications for the whole family of having 50 euro less to spend on the household that week.

"That is not a position any parent should have to be in."

Ms O'Donovan said its workers who deal directly with disadvantaged children have seen a marked deterioration in conditions over the past two years.

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