Students call for action to help give children a brighter future

Final year students have launched their own manifesto to help give children in Leicester a brighter future.

Students on the Communication Arts degree at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) went behind the headlines to investigate issues affecting children’s life chances.

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The students found poor mental health, hidden homelessness, poverty and the lack of ‘school readiness’ were all contributing to the ever-widening social mobility gap between Leicester’s young generations. Children faced with these challenges are less likely to do well at school, which impacts their future.

They interviewed charities and families living in hostels and temporary accommodation to put together a documentary called It Takes a City to Raise a Child.

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They recreated the bedroom of a child living in a hostel following an interview with a Leicester mum and staged a series of observational photo essays at their final-year EXPO which was held at DMU’s Mill Studios.

Yesterday they launched their manifesto to call on policymakers to increase funding to front line services and residents to show compassion to children experiencing challenging circumstances. The documentary and installations will be shown at Leicester’s Phoenix Arts Cinema next month.

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Student Rebecca Hardy said: “The life chances of children in Leicester is important to us and we are enthusiastic to use our skills to help start change for these children.

“I am from Leicestershire, as are several of my course mates, so this topic is something close to our hearts and I think most people have some experience with this, whether it’s themselves or people that they know.”

Keynote speaker was Matt Lilley of Focus charity which works with young people who have grown up in challenging circumstances.

Matt said “The idea that ‘it takes a city to raise a child’ has never been more relevant than it is today.  We all have a role to play and a responsibility to act to support them in feeling that they are part of a supportive and loving community. At Focus, we are delighted to be involved in this EXPO and hope that it will be a catalyst for change.”

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In 2019, more than 34,000 children in Leicester live below the poverty line which is one in four. Leicester City Council currently estimates that 5,250 children in the city have a mental health illness. By the time children reach five years old, 33.6% of them are not school ready, meaning they are not achieving a good level of development at the end of reception.

The Communication Arts degree encourages students to use creative skills such as design, video, photography and writing to address important topics and give under-represented groups a voice through community media.

Posted on Thursday 9th May 2019

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