NI children could die from hypothermia amid cost-of-living crisis, rally told

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Children could die of hypothermia this winter in Northern Ireland if more support is not provided for struggling families, a rally has been heard.

Hundreds of people gathered outside City Hall in Belfast on Saturday to demand more government action amid a livelihood crisis.

The event, organized by a campaign group called the Cost of Living Coalition, was addressed by representatives of trade unions, community groups and political parties.

One of those who spoke to the crowd was Koula Yasouma, the Children’s Commissioner for Northern Ireland.

There is no point in verbal assurances from government ministers to protect young people, he said.

“Words won’t feed our kids, they won’t keep our kids warm, nor will they give them a safe place to live,” she said.

“We need action to do this and for too long successive governments, here and across the water, have made political choices – and make no mistake there is a choice they have made – to ensure that our There is a certain level of child poverty and that child poverty exists.”

Ms Yasouma said there were 110,000 children living in poverty in Northern Ireland before the pandemic.

“I can’t even imagine what it’s going to look like until Christmas,” she said.

The commissioner said there are concerns that some children may die of hypothermia in the winter months.

“This is Northern Ireland in 2022 and we are concerned about children dying from hypothermia,” she said.

“It is time for our governments, wherever they are, to make different choices.

“We have not found any government across the water that would do this. We need a government here in Northern Ireland to do that.”

Before the rally, the Cost of Living Coalition published a charter with a series of demands for the government.

Among the demands, the charter calls for “inflation-busting wage increases” and a minimum wage of £15-an-hour for all workers.

Coalition organizer Maria Morgan, a benefits consultant from North Belfast, told the rally: “We want the charter to be seen, we want it to be taken seriously and we want action against it.”

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