This article is published in today's Leicester Mercury:
Conference focuses on the need to tackle rise in child poverty
Business leaders, charity bosses and politicians have met to discuss ways of tackling Leicester's growing child poverty rates.
De Montfort University hosted the city's first Child Poverty Conference on Friday, which was attended by more than 200 delegates from across the country.
It was hosted by the Leicester Child Poverty Commission, which will launch a city-wide action plan on child poverty later this summer.
Deputy city mayor Rory Palmer said: "At the last count, there were about 27,000 children living in poverty and that number is probably closer to 30,000 now. It's something we urgently need to address.
"As a city council there are things we can do, such as ensure people are on the right energy tariffs and not paying too much on their bills.
"We can make sure children entitled to free school dinners are getting them, not paying when they should not be, and we can work with businesses to get them to increase wage levels.
"We had many constructive ideas which will help us put together an action plan."
Alison Garnham, chief executive of the national Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) said: "We are very glad to be involved and we hope not just to bring our expertise to the table, but also to learn more ourselves as we help develop new ideas and good practice that can spread to other communities."
Not trying to hitch our wagon to someone else's star, but the Council of Faiths was asked to ensure that representatives of the city's diverse faith communities would be in attendance at this event. Several of our Board Members were able to attend, including our Chair, Assistant Mayor Cllr Manjula Sood, who holds the Cabinet portfolio for Adult Health and Social Care. This conference took place on Friday 25 May - a busy day for us, as the Council of Faiths was also represented at Time to Shine at Leicester Racecourse and at the launch of the Memory Cafe at Eyres Monsell Community Centre.