Featured image by Rehan Jamil
On Thursday 29th June 2023, I had the opportunity to rally outside 10 Downing Street along with MPs, Healthcare professionals, Headteachers, Teachers, Religious leaders, other young people and many others who have seen different aspects to what child hunger leads to. The diverse group of campaigners handed in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in support of the National Education Union’s No Child Left Behind campaign, which seeks to tackle child poverty and calls for free school meals all. The letter had been signed by over 90,000 individuals and organisations.
I was given the opportunity to network with so many over such an important topic as a London based representative from UK Youth Parliament’s Food for Learning Social Action Group. Importantly, I am also a youth MP who’s experienced and has had the advantage of claiming free school meals growing up. This cause is one I am so grateful to represent as growing up I felt people claiming Free School meals were under-represented.
The day initially started with a live interview with the National Education Union and pictures to raise awareness for the campaign, where we were joined by the likes of Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Education Union and Zarah Sultana MP. Shortly after 10 individuals came into 10 Downing Street to hand in the Petition Book. I was lucky enough to get the honour of taking pictures with this group. After, we made our way to Parliament square alongside each other in solidarity for this much needed campaign. The energy was amazing and this is hopefully only the start of something much bigger.
The National Education Union’s No Child Left Behind campaign links into UK Youth Parliament’s Food for Learning campaign. Both believe that no child in the UK will be able to learn or progress effectively without a healthy meal every day, and that the education system has a key role to play in facilitating this. The cost of living crisis is impacting many of the nation’s poorest families, and we have never needed anything more.The only way of combatting this epidemic is by putting investments like these into the future of our country.
As part of our Food for Learning campaign, Youth MPs have been inviting MPs to sit in on school dinners in the summer term so that they are able to see the impact a meal can have on someone’s energy levels and focus. It is also an opportunity for Members of Youth Parliament to speak with decision makers in hope for their backing of our campaign. “Spill the Tea” has been organised with the help of our partners the Child Poverty Action Group.
The investment of Free School Meals has impacted me massively. I believe that they have the power to help so many others. Equality starts with our generation.