Chi Onwurah grew up in poverty and knows how going to bed hungry can impact a young person’s future.
Now, the Newcastle Central MP spends almost every day dealing with constituents desperate for help.
“I see parents coming to my constituency in tears because they can’t afford to feed their children, or because they have to go to a food bank and they can’t afford the bus fare,” she says.
Friday November 20 marks World Children’s Day, but in the UK 4.2 million children are currently living in poverty. The pandemic looks likely to make the situation worse, as many parents find themselves out of work and at risk of losing their job or becoming homeless.
Onwurah was born in Wallsend, just outside her Newcastle constituency. The north east has been hit hardest by the second wave of the pandemic and the region suffered the country’s biggest increase in child poverty between 2015 and 2019, according to the North East Child Poverty Commission.Half of all children in Onwurah’s seat of Newcastle Central grow up poor. Onwurah takes this personally.
“I grew up in poverty and on benefits. We were a one parent family, and my mum was disabled so she didn’t work. We grew up on benefits in a council house,” she says.