I'm still in the middle of organising car seats and travel cots for next week's residential. Maybe some of you guys out there are interested in finding out a bit more about my day job. Well, the new and shiny programme I'm involved in is called "Inspiring Change", which is linked to Save the Children's work on ending child poverty in the UK. Child poverty in the UK? I hear some say in disbelief. Yes, we are a very rich nation, but according to government statistics, between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 children in the UK grow up in poverty, and 1 in 10 even in severe and persistent poverty. Why? Well, partly because in the UK the difference between the very rich and the very poor is massive, it's an unequal society that doesn't redistribute wealth. Of course there are other reasons - what matters though is that growing up in poverty means that children have lower educational outcomes, poorer health, less ambitions, and generally perpetuate the cycle of poverty.
Our Inspiring Change programme works with groups of young people or parents who live in deprived areas. We facilitate workshops that identify an issue that affects the people in the group and that they can agree to work on as a group. The group then explores the root causes for the issue, its effects, and potential solutions. They pick a short project that will make a real difference in relation to the issue for them and for their communities, and we help them plan the project, and implement it. This is only a drop in the ocean of course, but we will be scaling up the number of groups we work with across the UK in the next 2 years and we also hope to link them through a web community, and create vblogs and podcasts where they share their experiences with the general public, thus creating campaigns and public support for their change ideas and projects. This way, we hope, the drop will stir the waters and become a wave which will lead to change on a bigger scale. The programme works on many levels, empowering those we work with (we hope) and giving them a voice through a big charity like us, and inspiring the general public by sharing the journey of the groups and picking campaign calls from some of the groups for national campaigns, thus creating more support generally for ending child poverty in the UK.
It's exciting and also extremely ambitious. The idea is to work with a range of groups, clustered in some areas. So we try to work with younger children, teenagers, parents and carers. My biggest piece of work at the moment is that with a group of young parents (who incidentally aren't that young, and mature beyond their age anyway, but I guess they are in the sense that they all had their children before they were 20 - at least I think that's the case). It's a fab group and they really pinpoint lots of issues, it'll be hard to pick one project from all the ideas they have. I'm quite passionate about this particular piece of work because it links in very well with my previous work for the same organisation, when I worked on access to Pre5 services for asylum seeking children. Of course, as you can imagine, preschool education and childcare is not just a professional interest of mine, and it's great when you can actually draw on your own real life experiences as well within your work remit.
So, all exciting stuff. I'll be spending a few days (and nights) with 11 youngish mums and 12 children, plus some staff and new volunteers. All my blogging action will be for the Inspiring Change webcommunity (which is private and for participants only, sorry) so yet again it will be rather quiet on this page. Please bear with me and don't desert me my lovely readers, I know I haven't been good at posting recently, but normal service will resume after the residential.