On Wednesday 9th March, the N8 Research Partnership hosted the launch of the Child of the North report in Westminster, alongside the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA)
Parliamentarians, academics, charities, young people, organisations and civil servants all had the opportunity to speak to the authors of the seminal Child of the North report, which explores how to build a fairer future for children across the North of England after COVID-19.
It was a fantastic turn-out at the event, with so many attendees pledging their support to tackle the inequalities facing the North’s children and secure the best possible future for every child – regardless of where they live.
About the report
The Child of the North: Building a fairer future after COVID-19 report, produced by the N8 Research Partnership and the NHSA, outlines the considerable costs to society and the UK’s economy of rising inequality. It was written by over 40 leading academics from across the North of England and looks at a wide range of factors, from child poverty to children in care, to build up a picture of The Child of the North.
The report sets out 18 clear recommendations that can be put in place to tackle the widening gap between the North and the rest of England.
On the report, Professor of Public Health and Policy at the University of Liverpool and co-lead author of the report, David Taylor Robinson, said: “Children growing up in the North of England get a bad deal. Due to poverty and lack of investment, their outcomes are worse across the board – from risk of death in childhood, to obesity, mental health, and education, and the pandemic has made the situation worse. The stark inequalities exposed in our report are preventable and unfair. Levelling up must begin with better policies for children.”
Professor of Epidemiology at the University of York and co-lead author of the report Kate Pickett said: “Levelling up for the North must be as much about building resilience and opportunities for the Covid generation and for future children as it is about building roads, railways and bridges. But the positive message of this report is that investment in children creates high returns and benefits for society as a whole.”
At the parliamentary launch, Liz Twist MP for Blaydon in the North East, gave a passionate welcome speech setting out why we need to do so much better for our children and how reports such as Child of the North can provide parliamentarians with the evidence required to persuade when are in the Chamber or bringing forward legislation.
The report’s lead authors Professor David Taylor-Robinson and Professor Kate Pickett spoke about its key findings, including the troubling picture of child poverty in the North compared to the rest of the country and how this has worsened during the pandemic. They urged MPs to amplify the findings of the report and work together to drive real change, calling on policy makers to invest in young people now or else have society as a whole face the consequences in years to come.
Attendees also heard from 13-year-old Alyssa Cole, from Liverpool Youth Advisory Group – a charity which provides mental health and emotional wellbeing services for Liverpool’s children, young people and families.
Alyssa bravely stood up and spoke powerfully about the importance of supporting children and young people’s mental health, with many young people affected.
The main take-away from the day was that we have the tools to tackle the poverty and widening inequalities facing children in the North – now we need action to make it happen.
We’re encouraging MPs to become a Child of the North champion and advocate for a fairer future by sharing the report with colleagues and on social media, table parliamentary questions, write to the minister on the key findings and recommendations and join a new Child of the North APPG (contact Hannah.Davies@thenhsa.co.uk for more information).
Hannah Davies, Health Inequalities lead for the Northern Health Science Alliance and report co-author, said: “It was a privilege to launch the Child of the North report in Parliament. We thank everyone who joined us on the day and strongly believe that this is the start of real change.
“The report illustrates in no uncertain terms that without significant, properly-funded measures to tackle the entrenched inequalities experienced by children in the North of England, from birth, there will be no levelling up in the country.
“We’re urging parliamentarians to take action by engaging with the report’s recommendations and do everything possible to create a fairer, more equal future for every child.”
Stephen Parkinson, Research Partnership Manager at the N8 Research Partnership and report co-author, said: “Our report demonstrated the many, distressing ways in which children growing up in the North have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
“This injustice will not be rectified until parliamentarians from all parties engage with our recommendations in order to ensure action is taken – now – to secure the best possible future for children. It was therefore heartening to see the parliamentary launch of Child of the North receive such a positive response.
“This is just the start, and we look forward to working with politicians from all parties to ensure children are put at the heart of the pandemic recovery.”
With thanks to all of the attendees on the day, including Liz Twist MP, Bridget Phillipson MP, Feryal Clark MP, Kim Johnson MP, Debbie Abrahams MP, Paula Barker MP, Ian Byrne MP, Kate Green MP, Emma Lewell-Buck MP, Ian Lavery MP, Kim Leadbeater MP, Andy McDonald MP, Kate Osborne MP, the Lord Bishop of Leeds and many more.
The full report and recommendations can be read here.