Child poverty 'among worst in UK'
Child poverty levels in Northern Ireland are among the UK's worst, with around a third of children in Londonderry, Belfast and Strabane living in extreme need, new research has indicated.
The areas featured fourth, fifth and 14th respectively in the 20 most impoverished places to grow up, according to statistics released by the Campaign to End Child Poverty.
Lynda Wilson, Director of Barnardo's NI, said: "Behind today's statistics sit the most vulnerable children in society whose life chances risk being compromised by our failure to tackle child poverty effectively."
She continued: "Barnardo's NI works day in and day out with families in the most deprived areas. The grim reality is that many families face vicious cycles of debt and impossible choices between heating homes or cooking hot meals for their children."
When the figures are broken down, west Belfast is the second worst place for a child to live in the UK, with 43% of children underprivileged. Even Northern Ireland's least affected areas have 13% of children living in need.
Following the release of the child poverty map (2012), Barnardo's has called on the Northern Ireland Executive to focus on reducing child poverty.
Claiming that children from low income homes are more likely to suffer chronic illness, do worse at school and struggle to find jobs later in life, she continued: "While the Northern Ireland Executive has already undertaken steps to address child poverty with the introduction of a Child Poverty Strategy there needs to be further emphasis on literacy, numeracy and early intervention to address educational underachievement and the introduction of a Child Care Strategy to help families facing financial hardship."
Enver Solomon, chair of the End Child Poverty Campaign, said: "The child poverty map reveals the depth and breadth of child poverty and the gross levels of inequality that children face in every region.
"Far too many children whose parents are struggling to make a living are having to go hungry and miss out on the essentials of a decent childhood that all young people should be entitled to."
He added: "The huge disparities that exist across the country have become more entrenched and are now an enduring reality as many more children are set to become trapped in long term poverty and disadvantage."