The effects of child poverty and social exclusion in the UK

The effects of child poverty and social exclusion in the UK

It is well known that young people growing up in poorer families leave school with substantially lower levels of educational attainment. Such ‘achievement gaps’ are a major contributing factor towards patterns of social mobility. Compared to children from privileged backgrounds, disadvantaged young people are more likely to end up with fewer qualifications, higher unemployment and more reliance on benefits. Disadvantaged youths in London suffer from a lack of opportunities and positive role models which can impact how well they do at school, and if they get into further education.

The effects of poverty on a young person’s ability to study or learn are manifold and cumulative, from lack of adequate nutritious food to unsuitable housing. In Haringey, one of the most deprived regions in Britain, there is a direct correlation between the high concentration of social housing/temporary accommodation and those wards ranked as the most deprived in the borough. The associated stress and anxiety that often goes hand-in-hand with unsuitable housing can also lead to feelings of helplessness and increases the risk of depression and other mental health conditions. Cold or overcrowded households, where it becomes difficult to do homework, can have significant negative effects on the educational development of children and their long-term opportunities for sustained employment.

Studies have repeatedly shown that poverty and deprivation doesn’t only affect a child’s education and employment prospects, but their social and emotional development as well. Poverty and marginalisation can stunt a child’s ability to explore, learn and grow. A study by Connexions in 2006 concluded: “51% of young people growing up in inner-London do so in poverty and, as such, are more likely to underachieve at school and less likely to visit places outside their local environment”. One of the most dramatic increases in the gap between the development of privileged children and the development of disadvantaged children occurs during the summer holiday. Out of structured education poor and marginalised parents lack access to life-enhancing and mind-opening holidays, trips and activities.

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JAN Trust believes every child and young person deserves an equal chance to grow and develop, which is why we run a Youth Programme for disadvantaged youth in Haringey and London. In summer 2013 we offered free activities over the summer holidays for Haringey based Black, Asian and minority ethnic youth aged 11+. Activities included supplementary English and Maths classes along with social activities such as free trips to Brighton. For many attendees, this was the first time they had been to the seaside.

All young people deserve the chance to explore, learn and grow, regardless of their background

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