Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website.
Today, the UK goes to the polls to vote in the European Parliamentary elections.
After the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU) in the 2016 referendum, no one envisaged we would be voting in an EU election ever again.
The blame for this lies squarely with the Conservative Government for failing to secure an agreement that Parliament can support.
Their botched Brexit deal fails to: protect jobs, secure workers’ rights, environmental protections, and guarantee the frictionless trade that our manufacturing industry relies upon.
But whilst the Conservative Party has been failing to secure a deal that works for everyone and the country has been arguing over remain and leave or hard and soft Brexit, we have been guilty of missing something much more important and problematic for future generations: child poverty.
Last week, the End Child Poverty coalition released new statistics which found that half a million more children are having their lives blighted by poverty today than at the start of the decade; two thirds of which are growing up in working households.
In some constituencies across the UK, more than 50% of children are living in poverty.
In my constituency, Washington and Sunderland West, 39% of children are growing up in poverty.
That is almost 9,000 of our local children going to school hungry, being poorly clothed and suffering in the cold during winter.
Poverty instantly disadvantages children from their more affluent peers in every aspect of their life: health and wellbeing, education and future employment.
That so many children throughout the UK are growing up in poverty should shame this Government into action.
Yet, when confronted with the issue that millions of households across the country face, the Conservative Government are quick to dismiss it as an anomaly.
But this is a reality for far too many.
We have a duty to ensure that every child has the same opportunity to grow up into a healthy adult.
But we risk losing a generation to poverty, fuelled by the Conservative Government’s callous austerity policies and ignorance to the real issues families face.
As the UK goes to the polls today, we must remember what really matters.
Brexit may be important, but sadly it is proving to be a huge distraction from national scandals such as child poverty.
These children deserve better.
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