One in three children in Huntingdon North live in poverty, says charity

Almost a third of children in Huntingdon North live in poverty. Photograph modelled for The Children

Almost a third of children in Huntingdon North live in poverty. Photograph modelled for The Children's Society | Nick David - Credit: Nick David

NEARLY one in three children in Huntingdon North are living in poverty, a report has revealed.

The charity End Child Poverty has produced statistics showing the levels deprivation across Huntingdonshire.

On average 12 per cent of youngsters in the district are living below the breadline, with some areas such as Earith and The Hemingfords recording figures as low as five per cent.

However there are huge variations in deprivation across the district, with Eaton Socon at 18 per cent and Eynesbury at 15 per cent.

By far the most shocking is the Huntingdon North ward, where the charity believes 31 per cent of children are living in poverty.

Cambridgeshire County Council said that was because the area ranked high on a range of indicators such as low income, benefit claims, free school meals, low educational attainment and under-18 conception, as well as drug and alcohol use and crime.

Jill Watkin-Tavener, from the Oxmoor Community Action Group (OCAG), said her organisation had long been aware of the problems - but said it is now getting worse.

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Part of the reason for the high figure is the high concentration of homes on the Oxmoor estate, she said.

She added that children were often “left to their own devices”, making it much more likely for them to get involved in drugs and criminal behaviour.

She and the OCAG’s neighbourhood management team have put in place a number of helpful measures, including a shop at the Maple Centre where people could receive advice, as well as workshops on how to cook on a budget and debt counselling.

Schools have also monitored the performance of kids of free school meals but Mrs Watkin-Tavener warned: “There are a large number of people that are proud and find it difficult to pick up the phone and ask for help.”

Patrick Kadewere, district councillor for Huntingdon North, agreed that “things are getting worse” but encouraged those facing financial trobles to seek assistance.

Many people have approached him during his surgeries about the difficulties they have faced finding employment in particular, he said.

“It is worrying me what is happening but a number of organisations have come together to work on it,” he said.

A CCC spokesman said child poverty was “one of the council’s top priorities”.

“Local workers and groups have been brought together to develop a range of projects, including a family arts project, a food bank, a nearly-new sale called the Community Shop, cooking on a budget, a debt counselling service and other financial advice,” the spokesman added.

“A wider network has also been set up - in December over 50 staff and groups attended a conference to find out more about welfare reform, its impact on Huntingdon North ward and what services are available to support people who will be most affected by welfare reform.”