Aspire and Succeed share their views with the commission

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Matthew Reed, Chair of the Birmingham Child Poverty Commission,  met with young people from Aspire and Succeed, based in Lozells to hear their views and thoughts on how they can help the commission with ideas on how to  reduce child poverty in the city.

Around 15 young people between the ages of 17 to 18 years old took part in a focused discussion around two case studies based on, 15 year old Kam and 8 year old Ben whose lives are blighted by poverty. A number of very insightful and passionate points were raised and some of the young people shared their own experiences about the barriers that prevented them and their families accessing opportunities to improve their quality of life.

Some of the common themes and solutions identified by the group were:

  • Housing issues.Kam case study
  • Money management advice and financial support.
  • Raise the living wage.
  • Young people need more access to a range of career opportunities.
  • Provide training for family members out of work by local organisations and businesses.
  • Local communities to help and encourage family members to speak English to increase opportunities and access to services.
  • Provide positive mentoring for young people by school teachers, other family members and local groups

What needs to happen for jobs in this area?

  • Pathway for young people to gain apprenticeship. Training opportunities are not always fit for purpose. Historically there was industry, now there isn’t much. Need to raise awareness of how to go for jobs and stimulate ambition.
  • Area has an unfair negative reputation which employers look at as a reason not to employ us. Stigmatised by our postcode.
  • Better housing for families – stop overcrowding.
  • Training opportunities weren’t considered fit for purpose, as businesses in the area were industrial now they have changed to services.

What could schools do differently?

  • After school clubs are need to help with homework.
  • Providing a free school uniform, stationery.
  • Teachers need to be more encouraging and positive toward all children not just the ‘clever’ ones. “It’s not good for your confidence to be told that you won’t get anywhere or and will get bad exam results”.
  • Expelled pupils are moved to a centre at the other side of the city referred to as journey men, moving from one school to another. This prevents them from building lasting friendships and damages their self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Some young children had their time at school disrupted as they often became translators for family members. Translating ‘adult issues’ causing emotional and stressed.

What shouldn’t be missed… when the group were asked by Matthew, what should be including in the commission recommendations? They responded by saying;

  • Different ways to  earn good money, it creates opportunity to do things, buy the things needed and pay the bills.
  • Something needs to be done to get rid of postcode prejudice and the assumptions made about coming from a ‘trouble’ area.
  • Give young people contacts to access good job opportunities.
  • The commission needs to look at social housing issues as they are impacting families and;
  • A lack of affordable accessible centres and sporting facilitates make it difficult for young people to enjoy physical activities to get healthy and time away from other pressures.
  • All children have dreams to do well in life – no matter what your background or the area you come from.

Anyone who wants to share their stories or ideas with the commission can contact: childpovertycommission@birmingham.gov.uk

People are also encouraged to contact and follow the commission on Twitter using its@FairBrum handle and the hashtag #brumchildpoverty.

The commission aims to publish its report, including recommendations to tackle poverty in Birmingham, early next year.

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