London: Celebrities Armeena Khan, Sonali Shah and Anila Chowdhry gave their support to the UK’s longest running children’s charity Barnardo’s at the charity’s Annual Parliamentary Reception on Monday 8th July. Other prominent British Asians at the event at the House of Commons, Terrace Pavilion included actors Priyanga Burford and Meryl Fernandes; as well as lifestyle blogger Rumena Begum. They were joined by further celebrities and Barnardo’s supporters such as actors Andy Serkis and Louisa Clein; music artist Nicola Roberts; and TV personalities Sam Thompson, Roma and Lydia Bright.
During the event, sponsored by Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, a new Barnardo’s report, ‘Overcoming Poverty of Hope’, which looks at the concerns young people have for the future, including climate change, Brexit and crime, drew widespread support from attendees and the charity’s celebrity supporters. The findings of the report come from a YouGov poll commissioned by the children’s charity to look at the hopes and fears of young people.
On the day newsreader, presenter, journalist and long-time humanitarian, Natasha Kaplinsky OBE, was announced as the new President of the charity and invited to speak. Young people from Barnardo’s services also attended alongside MPs and representatives from the charity sector.
Speaking at the Reception, broadcaster Sonali Shah said, “What Barnardo’s has achieved today is not only commendable, it is a crucial part of ensuring that the next generation is empowered to speak up and campaign for change. It has been really interesting to be a part of that conversation.”
Presenter Anila Chowdhry said,“It’s an honour to be here today supporting the fantastic and inspiring charity Barnardo’s. Children and young people are the future, so it’s important that we invest in them, and give them the tools and platform to have their voices heard. I want to see every child have equal opportunity so they not only survive but thrive.”
Actress and writer Priyanga Burford said, “It’s been great to be at Barnardo’s Parliamentary Reception. The ‘Overcoming Poverty of Hope’ report shows us the heart of what concerns young people. Now that we know what the challenges are, it’s our responsibility to work together to make things better for them – which means better for all of us.”
Actress Armeena Khan said, “Barnardo’s is doing fantastic work in the UK with addressing the diverse and complex needs of children and young people. Today’s reception bears testimony to the hard work and vision of the charity, and I am keen to get involved and share my own global perspective.”
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan, said,“We are really grateful to all the celebrities, MPs and other supporters who came to the event to hear about Barnardo’s vision, values and the impact we have on the lives of the most vulnerable children in the UK.
“When young people feel there is little or no possibility of a positive future, what we call a ‘poverty of hope’, they are vulnerable to exploitation and criminality.
“Collectively, we can help young people overcome this ‘poverty of hope’ by believing in them, nurturing their talents, providing opportunities, knocking down barriers, and listening to them when it comes to decisions that affect their futures.”
Barnardo’s ‘Overcoming the Poverty of Hope’reportreveals two thirds (67 per cent) of young people believe their generation will be worse off than their parents. It also reveals that 62 per cent of 16-24 year-olds feel the government cares more about older generations than their own.
Furthermore, the report reveals how young adults from BAME backgrounds are statistically even more concerned about current issues than their mainstream counterparts. The findings highlight that Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) young people believe the economy, jobs and employment and education are three of the most important issues facing the country over the next three to five years.
The 16-24 year-olds surveyed were asked to pick what they thought were the top three most important issues facing the country over the next three to five years. The economy was one of the most important issues for 30 per cent of BAME respondents. 23 per cent said jobs and employment, 22 per cent education and 21 per cent selected crime.
For white respondents, 23 per cent said the economy was one of the most important issues, 18 per cent said jobs and employment, 16 per cent education and 17 per cent selected crime.
The responses of both BAME and white young people reveal generally they are experiencing a ‘poverty of hope’ and paints a picture of a generation who don’t feel they are listened to by society or decision-makers when it comes to challenges facing the country.
In relation to the report findings, Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said, “While material poverty is part of the problem, many children and young people today also feel there is little or no possibility of a positive future, what we call a ‘poverty of hope’.
“The voices of young people are missing from debates about the challenges facing the country. They feel ignored by society and decision makers who are focussed on the concerns of older generations.
“Many BAME young people face additional challenges – we know they are less likely to access services and unfortunately they are more likely to be involved in knife crime. This isn’t a race issue – but it is about tackling disadvantage.
“Collectively, we can help young people overcome this poverty of hope by believing in them, nurturing their talents, providing opportunities, knocking down barriers and listening to them when it comes to decisions that affect their futures.”
Kiran Dhillon, 26, from Ilford, grew up in care since the age of two. She said, “I think young people are just put to one side by the government because there is always an excuse about money. There’s no funding and there is no investment in the youth.
“The fact is they are our next generation; they are our future doctors, social workers and lawyers, all of that. The core issue of what young people are facing in their communities is being lost.”
Recommendations of the Report:
Barnardo’s is making 11 recommendations to Government, to help young people overcome their ‘poverty of hope’, which include:
- Children and adolescent mental health services are in need of urgent and sustained investment, which could come from the £20.5 bn a year NHS funding settlement.
- The Government should ensure all children, young people and parents have access to education and guidance on safe social media use.
- The Government should commit to increasing investment in community youth work and safe spaces for young people to provide targeted early intervention in vulnerable communities.
- The Government should commit to funding a long term, multi-agency strategy to tackle the root causes of youth violence. This approach should provide young people access to housing and a route into education, training and employment, to help them secure a brighter future.
- Children who are victims of criminal exploitation and forced into gangs, to carry knives, traffic drugs, or commit other offences should not be criminalised. These children should be treated as victims.