During the Christmas holidays Bath Rugby Foundation and its partners will be hosting day camps for children whose families have been hit hardest financially by the pandemic.

Winter BreakOut hubs will focus on food and fun and relieve some of the pressure on parents whose children who would normally receive free school meals. 

Inevitably the ‘don’t have kids if you can’t afford them,’ narrative will rear its ugly head, as it always does when the subject of children going hungry is talked about.

There are many things wrong with this line of thought, not least my amazement that anyone would think it’s not a good idea to feed a hungry child.

Firstly, it completely disregards the fact that only the smallest minority of people could predict what their family income will look like for the next 18 years. It also ignores that a family that was once financially secure could suffer physical or mental health problems, job loss, death…or a global pandemic that causes 6.5million jobs to be lost this country alone.

Even without the argument that you can never predict your financial future, impoverished families are not all lazy, feckless parents who didn’t think before having a child. Actually, the statistics tell us the vast majority are hard-working families who have been affected by policy changes that have made low-paid, insecure jobs their only option. 

More than 70% of children growing up in poverty have a parent who works. Many of these workers have kept us healthy, safe and able to shop for essentials during the pandemic.

Poverty is not a lifestyle choice, it’s caused by a number of factors, centring on rising housing costs, low pay, zero-hour contracts, unreliable working hours, and the second most expensive childcare costs in the world (New Zealand tops the chart).

The pandemic has highlighted that hardship can happen to anyone as well as magnifying flaws in the existing system. For many years the budgets of low-income families have been squeezed as average wages have stagnated, housing and childcare costs have risen, and work has become increasingly insecure. Infact, this is the fourth year that Bath Rugby Foundation has stepped into the holiday hunger space.

Studies reveal one in three working families are only one payday away from losing their home. The same study by Shelter and YouGov found that almost half of working people who rent are in the same position.

Bath Rugby Foundation and its partners are proud to be helping any families who have been forced to choose between feeding their children and keeping their home and we will continue to add our voice to those who are calling for societal change in an increasingly unequal society.

Find out more about Winter BreakOut