Child poverty: what do young people have to say about it?

Tuesday 16th July 2013

Breslin Public Policy release new paper on child poverty

We are pleased to announce the publication of our new paper, A Series of Doors: young people talking about the experience of poverty, based on work originally undertaken for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, as part of their response to the government consultation on child poverty conducted earlier this year.

We reproduce the News Release that we have just issued and commend the views of the young people to all with an interest in this area.

News release

For Immediate Release: 16 July 2013

New publication

“A Series of Doors”

Young people talking about the experience of poverty

A Breslin Public Policy paper[1] informed by work carried out for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner[2] as part of its response to a government consultation on child poverty[3]

Poverty is like a series of doors. One door is being poor, another door is being autistic, another door is being a young carer; another door is living in a bad area… The more doors there are, the more keys are needed to open them and people don’t care enough to make the effort to open them all

As this comment demonstrates, children and young people who experience poverty can be highly articulate and insightful about their lives, but their voices are too seldom heard, especially by those in power.  At the invitation of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, we brought a group of these young people together in Westminster to help inform policy. In this paper their voices are given prominence. They reflect on the issues that matter to them: Money, Access to services, Education, Employment, Community and home life, Aspirations, Access to transport, Networks.

Dr. Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England, said:

Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, every child and young person has the right to express his or her views, and to have those views heard and taken seriously. That right is hugely important for those who live in poverty and on the margins of society. This document provides a powerful example of the fundamental and essential job of amplifying their voices

Dr Tony Breslin, Director of Breslin Public Policy, said:

The voices of children and young people continue to be excluded from debate about their experience. Much of the literature on child and family poverty is pertinent and incisive, but comparatively little of it presents the voices of first hand experience

These young people were thoughtful, articulate, provocative and insightful. They contributed their views in an inspiringly positive and participative spirit, and it was a privilege to work with them. Their energy and honesty deserves close and sincere support from all who have the power to help make a difference to their lives

Kate Green, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty, said:

This paper is a wake-up call to all of us charged with the responsibility of addressing the challenges of poverty as experienced by children and young people. Too often, we conduct an adult-to-adult debate that ignores where poverty hits hardest – on children and young people

The paper, and the associated report to the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, can be accessed through the links in the Endnotes below.


Tony Breslin, Breslin Public Policy: 07973 885 915;

Kevin Harris, Breslin Public Policy: 0773 042 9993;

We will be pleased to arrange access to young people who participated in the event and are prepared to speak about their experience of poverty.

[1] The paper, A Series of Doors, is available here: A Series of Doors

[2] A Series of Doors is based on an event held in February 2013 organised by Breslin Public Policy for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. It uses direct quotations from the children and young people recorded on the day, together with some comments from supporting adults who accompanied them, and written contributions made by the participants during a specially designed workshop activity on the day.

[3] The report produced by Breslin Public Policy for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, Young People Talking About Poverty, is available here: Young People Talking About Poverty

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