On the 19th January, Frank Field MP had the 2nd Reading of his Holiday Provisions (Meals and Activities) Bill in Parliament.
Unfortunately, due to time restraints, Sharon was unable to speak in the debate.
However, if she had, Sharon would have given this speech in the Chamber.
You can read the short debate here: Frank Field MP's Holiday Provision (Meals and Activities) Private Members Bill 19.01.18
Many Members will know that the issue of child holiday hunger is one that I care deeply about and believe we should be doing far more to address.
That is why I welcome this Bill brought before the House today by my Rt. Hon. Friend for Birkenhead – he has been a great ally in campaigning on this issue and this Bill is testament to his passion for this issue.
The main thrust of my speech this afternoon is that the Government must be doing far more to support children and young people who suffer from hunger during the school holidays.
There are many, some in this House and some outside, who believe that when the school gates lock for the holidays, especially the long summer holidays, that it is none of our business how a child eats, or doesn’t in some cases.
For me, this train of thought fails to help us achieve the society we aspire to be: compassionate and caring.
It is shameful that we will allow children to remain hungry during the school holidays, which will have a serious detrimental effect on their health and education thus negatively affecting their life opportunities.
If we are to truly believe that we are giving our children the best start in life, then it is important that this issue is addressed – and this Bill will help take us a step further to achieving that goal.
UNICEF estimate that 10% of children in the UK are living in severe food insecurity and my Rt Hon Friend’s Inquiry into this issue estimated 3 million children are at risk of hunger over the school holidays; we cannot allow this to continue.
Aside from the Bill by my Rt. Hon Friend, there is a clear policy gap when it comes to addressing food insecurity but, for me, the most pertinent issue is the lack of children’s and young people’s voices in any policy development.
That is why, with the support of the Food Foundation and the fantastic Lindsay Graham, I will be chairing a cross-party inquiry over the next year or so into the views of children and young people so that policy on food security can be developed based on their opinions.
This inquiry will not only address this issue, but place children at the centre of policy that affects them. It is very important they are heard.
We cannot allow this to go on any longer and I wish this Bill every success as it passes through Parliament.
It is vitally important and must be seriously considered by ministers on the Government benches, who must help get it onto the statute book.
I implore the ministers to do more on this issue, because over the next year, we will see children again going hungry during the school holidays.
Let us make 2018 the year that we end this societal failure.
There are far too many children experiencing hunger over the holidays and it is shameful that more is not being done.
As Members of Parliament, we all have a duty to introduce policy to protect children from hunger.
It was true 100 years ago and sadly it is still true today.
Debate on parliament TV
Information on Rt Hon Frank Field's Bill