An international charity that supports impoverished children around the world has decided to turn more attention locally because of high levels of poverty and a squeeze on cash help for struggling families.
Hope for Children, which has set up and runs education and healthcare projects in Africa, Asia and Europe, has increased its small grants budget by 50 per cent this year to help youngsters in Hemel Hempstead.
The town has five wards – Highfield, Grovehill, Woodhall Farm, Adeyfield West and the town centre – that fall in the top 15 most deprived areas of Hertfordshire.
Chief executive Simon Jackman (pictured) said: “While Hope is an international charity, our roots and foundations are based in Hemel.
“We have always felt that as a children’s charity we should try and help local families, especially when so many of the local sources of funding have disappeared or been reduced.
“While organisations such as Children in Need fund such excellent work, many local funds that were available to support local charities, through this national appeal are now found centrally and much less accessible to local groups.”
This year’s NHS health profile on Dacorum states 4,300 children in the borough live in poverty.
Mr Jackman said: “It’s not unusual to provide a grant for a family that has no carpeting in the house and young children are walking and playing on a concrete floor.
“It is also not unusual to find that the family doesn’t have a cooker or enough beds for the children in the household, or a cot for the baby.”
The charity helps these families by giving them grants that range from £50 to £250 to buy essentials.
This year it will have £10,000 in the pot to spend rather than £5,000.
The charity identifies needy families through probation officers, health care professionals and social workers.
The small grants programme often supports families and children who fall through the net of statutory support.
In many cases it is a family’s last resort.
Hertfordshire County Council’s Child poverty Needs Assessment found in 2010, 31 per cent of pupils eligible for free school meals achieved five A* to C grades at GCSE including English and maths, compared to 66 per cent of other pupils.
For poor children, going on to higher education is less common and teenage pregnancy rates are higher.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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