A four year old girl is asking the UK Prime Minister if anything can be done to alleviate the poverty among residents in the area of Cornwall where she lives.
The youngest member of the Kernow Branch of the Celtic League wanted to know i her donation of food to the local food bank will solve the problem of hunger among residents in her community, after hearing about how a growing number of people in the Camborne, Pool and Redruth area are literally starving.
Olwen Champliaud Tal-e-bot listened to a conversation that her mum and dad were having about a newspaper article they had read, which highlighted the difficulty a local food bank was having in meeting the demand from residents for food handouts.
One of the stories discussed in the article – and one that interested Olwen in particular – was about a pregnant woman and her partner who had to visit the food bank, because they could no longer afford to buy food and pay their rent. After donating food to the food bank Olwen thought that the food poverty situation would now be solved and it was then that her dad decided to sit down with her to write a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron to see if he could offer a suitable explanation for a little girl of Olwen’s age.
In the letter, Olwen’s dad – who is also the General Secretary of the Celtic League – wrote:
“…I decided to write to you [Prime Minister] in the hope that you could give her [Olwen] a better understanding of the depth of these issues by putting them into context and showing her that the gap between rich and poor is insurmountable and growing in our current political and economic climate and that if she would like to do anything about the situation in the future, a complete system overhaul is necessary.”
Kernow Branch Secretary, Mike Chappell, said about the poverty issue affecting Cornwall:
“Cornwall is increasingly becoming a land of haves and have nots. For years we have had tourism and second homes held aloft as some sort of goose that will lay the golden egg. It has failed us miserably.
“Meanwhile poverty has increased. As the politicians avert their eyes, more and more are reliant on food banks and charity, fortunately something we have plenty of. It has been both my pleasure but also my sorrow to play some small part in feeding the hungry and homeless. Our elected representatives should hang their heads in shame. Shame on them for selling our Cornwall down the river.”
The full text of the letter sent to Prime Minister Cameron is set out below.
“David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
Rhisiart Tal-e-bot (On behalf of Owen Champliaud Tal-e-bot)
Dear Prime Minister David Cameron
Poverty and Deprivation in Redruth and Camborne
I am writing this on behalf of my four year old daughter who is sitting next to me and is concerned about the high level of food poverty that is apparent in our community.
On the front cover of the last two editions of the Camborne and Redruth West Briton newspaper, a story has run about the poverty that exists in the area of Cornwall where we live. On reading the article to my wife and discussing the issues involved in front of our four year old daughter, she was eager for the article to be explained to her, because one of the featured stories involved a mum-to-be who had to visit a local food bank with her partner due to a severe lack of food. The article went on to say that the food bank was in such high demand recently that it was running very low on stock and could not remain open if further donations of food were not made by the public. My daughter understands to an extent that it is important to eat properly when pregnant, but she could not understand that the couple did not have enough to eat.
My daughter said that the story made her feel sad and she asked if we could do anything. We explained that we could take food to the food bank (which we subsequently did), but that the problems were much greater than that and could not be solved with simple donations of food. I am an active campaigner, involved in local politics, undertake a great deal of charity work and work in a college of further education in the area and I am all too aware of the poverty and deprivation that exists here.
In June 2011 a report announced that in one of the estates near where we live, childhood poverty affects 66% of households and in Cornwall as a whole 1 in 5 children under 16 years of age lives in poverty. These figures are distressing and a far cry from the Cornwall that wealthy tourists often like to visit like Rock and St Mawes. In the Redruth and Camborne areas of Cornwall we rarely see tourists and poverty is tangible. (Many people here cannot afford to take one holiday a year, let alone five of them).
When a further front page newspaper article in the West Briton came out this week showing two of the food bank volunteers smiling and surrounded by food that had been donated by people in the area – who had also been clearly effected by the news item – my daughter was under the impression that the problem had been solved. It was then that I decided to write to you in the hope that you could give her a better understanding of the depth of these issues by putting them into context and showing her that the gap between rich and poor is insurmountable and growing in our current political and economic climate and that if she would like to do anything about the situation in the future a complete system overhaul is necessary.
I wish you luck with the challenge that I have set, but then again I do not expect much hope of you ever acknowledging this letter, let alone responding to it. Even though I am writing this in a private capacity I do nevertheless intend to make the letter public for the sole purpose that some level of shame can be brought to bear on anyone who could possibly deny that these are pressing problems and do not need to be tackled as a matter of priority.
(On behalf of Owen Champliaud Tal-e-bot)
CC Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP”
This article submitted to Celtic News by Mike Chappell Secretary Celtic League Cornwall. For follow-up comment or clarification contact him directly via:
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information