I always start the day by reading the online papers and this morning the Huff Post ran with a blinder ” England’s Poorest Children Start School in Nappies, Unable to Speak or Recognise own name..” ; this particularly resonated as my 3 year granddaughter started school last week.
My immediate reaction was shock and my mind rolled back 35 years to my first adult job. with pre schoolers; I found myself scanning all the children I worked with in my 6 years of work in this field, and found I had known a good few of them to whom this shocking headline could apply to.
I then turned my thoughts to the parents of those children and realised they ALL came from families struggling with a multitude of difficulties. Our response as staff In those days, was to ensure the parents had access to all the support they needed; this regularly meant linking the up with a benefits advisor, Home Start or similar, and the relevant officer from the Pre School section of Social Services, we would all then work together with the family to address the problems, Usually this approach worked and the children went on to develop and grow, often catching up and surpassing their peers by Junior school.
The biggest difference is today, in 2013, this support network isn’t there, the benefit advisors have been made redundant or moved, projects like Home Start have been decimated by Cuts & the Pre School groups are only financially accessible for a fortunate few.
It is this lack of non threatening, non judgemental help & support that particularly worries me; for the children who need extra attention and input, their families who also need the same, but also for the future of our Country.
I accept that many readers will probably be thinking it’s a parents job to teach a child the basics, potty train her/him etc , and whilst in regular circumstances I agree, it’s vitally important to acknowledge the real difficulties people experience when they’re faced with a genuine struggle to survive,
It was recognised in 1943 by Abraham Maslow in his Hierarchy of Needs theory that when people don’t have access to their basic needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep. they cannot focus on anything else. Maslow’s theory has been criticised, challenged and adapted by many other scientists and business gurus but, they all agree that without our basic needs we do not fully function.
Similarly it is well established that when people are truly hungry, they are unable to think about anything other than food, and given we know that Food Banks are rising expedientially, is it really surprising that young children for the poorest families aren’t being taught to read?
I believe this is only the top of the iceberg, and as the real grassroot effects of 3 years of economic austerity continue to emerge into wider public conciousness, we will witness similar and countless other associated Societal problems, directly linked to the decimation of Social Security under the guise of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.
Given this, without intervention the poorest sections of Society, without a financial safety net, without access to recourse, without a network of support, have little hope. We know Poverty drains our intelligence, it disables us from nurturing our young, it prevents us from functioning as human beings and working together for a better future.
Therefore, unless those of us who still can challenge and fight, begin to do precisely what those deprived of basic needs can’t; come together, share our intelligence, support each other and lobby and work with those in Parliament who CAN make a difference, surely The poorest in Society are Doomed to Fail under The Coalition Government?