Nearly half of youth age 16 to 25 in Britain went to bed hungry last year and almost a quarter of them were forced to miss work or education because of a lack of food, according to Centerpoint, a charity that partners with religious groups of all faiths to address the nutritional, housing and employment needs of young people in the country.
Centrepoint commissioned a nationwide poll of 2,000 youth ages 16 to 25 in March and April 2022. The study found that 49 percent of respondents had gone to bed on empty stomachs, 54 percent struggled to buy food, and 23 percent were unable to work or study because of their hunger.
It further revealed that as many as 7.3 million adults and an estimated 2.6 million children in Britain experienced food insecurity in April alone, “meaning that many households all across the country cannot afford to feed themselves.”
“A major driver of this increase can be linked to a rise in absolute poverty and destitution, where a household lacks two or more of six essential items (including shelter, food and toiletries), or their income is too low to be able to afford these items themselves,” the study adds.
The charity warned that the lack of food is impacting the health and future of young people as they grapple with the rising cost of living. Forty-five percent of respondents said they don’t make enough to make ends meet.
About 31 percent of the respondents said they skipped dinner to cope with bills. The high cost of rent forced 30 percent of the respondents to forego meals, while 29 percent said they prioritized the feeding of their children over themselves.
“Access to adequate food and a decent meal should be a basic right, but our research shows it’s something being denied to too many of our most vulnerable young people,” Heather Paterson, the charity’s senior dietician, wrote in a July 2022 blog.
“The longer-term impact of lack of nourishment and worrying where your next meal is coming from can be devastating,” Paterson added, “but the immediate short-term knock on impact of having to drop out of education or struggling to stay in work is extremely distressing.”
The crisis is driving under-resourced youth toward food banks, many of which are run by churches. One such resource is run by Church Action on Poverty, an ecumenical Christian nonprofit dedicated to eradicating Britain’s “root causes of poverty.”
While food banks play an important role in addressing the crisis, they “will not solve the structural factors at the root of poverty,” notes the Centrepoint study. “Young people should be provided with a level of income that reflects the cost of living, to ensure that they can maintain a healthy lifestyle to prosper and succeed as they move into adulthood.”
To help support Britain’s homeless youth in association with Centrepoint, click here.
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