Education & Family

Mobile phones 'key to feeding needy children'

Image caption Old mobile phones can be used to raise funds for charity

The public is being encouraged to donate old mobile phones to help raise money to feed a London child.

The parenting website Netmums and the charity Kids Company have joined forces to try to raise more than £1m to feed hungry and vulnerable children.

They say each phone donated will provide a month's worth of meals for an at-risk child helped by Kids Company.

In a survey of 1,116 parents, Netmums found one in four (24%) knew of a child in their area who may be going hungry.

Just under a third (29%) said they had seen a rise in children suffering "food insecurity" over the past two years.

Over the past 12 months, Kids Company, which works in deprived areas of the capital, has reported an increase of more than 200% in the number of vulnerable children using its services.

The average age of the 17,000 children going to its centre is 10.

By coming together to launch the Mobiles for Meals campaign, the two organisations hope to raise extra funds for vulnerable children who may be going hungry.

Child poverty warning

However, official figures released last month showed the number of children living in poverty in the UK fell by 300,000 in 2010-11 to 2.3 million. A total of 18% of children were living in households classed as below the poverty line - a 2% drop.

This was because the measure is based on median incomes which also went down.

In May a report by children's charity Unicef warned government spending cuts would reverse progress made on tackling child poverty.

The report on 35 wealthy countries says the UK did better than many others at protecting children from the impact of the global financial crisis.

Camila Batmanghelidjh, Kids Company founder, said: "We are seeing a lot more children struggling to get hold of food.

"We have kids who were so starving they stole frozen meat from a flat they visited and they ate it raw. We're seeing effectively responsible parents who are just not managing to have food in the house.

"Children don't have a public voice so they can't tell us. We have a collective responsibility to make sure every child has enough to eat."

Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard said: "This campaign is about mums across the UK taking this unacceptable situation into our own hands.

"It's horrifying to realise how many kids are suffering around the UK."

Household names who are supporting the campaign include television's Alan Yentob, Eamonn Holmes, ex-EastEnders actress Natalie Cassidy and Jeremy Kyle.

Old mobiles can be taken to T-Mobile or Orange shops.

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