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Mothers staging hunger strike at Parliament

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Mothers staging hunger strike at Parliament

A group of six mothers will begin a five-day hunger strike outside Parliament on Mother’s Day to draw attention to parents in the UK who are skipping meals to feed their children.

The mothers taking part in the peaceful protest, set up by Mother’s Manifesto, plan to strike without food from Sunday to Thursday, with a meeting in Parliament to discuss next steps with MPs scheduled for Tuesday at 11.30am.

Their demands include making sure all children in the UK have enough to eat by enforcing universal free school meals and universal credit to guarantee life’s essentials, the Government keeping its promises on foreign aid and climate change and the implementation of a loophole-free windfall tax on oil and gas companies’ record profits.

They plan on protesting between 11am and 4pm each day, and are staying in a nearby Buddhism centre each night.

It is the group’s second hunger strike after they protested outside Downing Street for six days from Mother’s Day last year.

The organiser of the Mother’s Manifesto campaign is Emma Hopkins, a 55-year-old herbalist and mother-of-four from Totnes, Devon, who told the PA news agency: “I thought there would be something really poignant about holding it on a day when we celebrate mothers, and we celebrate what they stand for, which is around nurturing and caring.

“As mothers, we feel like we should be able to feed children and take care of them and actually, many mothers are not able to do that both in the UK and globally.

“I think it’s absolutely shameful that so many people here in the UK are struggling to manage to feed themselves – we’ve got millions of children who are below the poverty line in one of the richest nations.”

Mrs Hopkins and the rest of the strikers, Chantelle Norton, Anna Palmer, Jessica Upton, Erika Curren and Nellie Crowdy, will be joined by an additional eight women who will only be striking for a minimised time due to their own circumstances such as health reasons or work commitments.

“We will sit outside Parliament with a table with empty plates and knives and forks,” Mrs Hopkins said.

“On the plates we have written a number of our demands and we’re making hearts with children’s names on to show our support for their future.

“I’m so excited for it, and it will really show how much mothers are struggling with feeding their children.”

According to 2022 numbers from the Food Foundation charity, 25.8% of households with children had experienced food insecurity within the past month, affecting an estimated four million children in the UK.

Mrs Hopkins organised a similar strike last year that led to a meeting at Parliament and support from 10 MPs – all of whom were interested in discussing the group’s demands.

“It was amazing, and we have also been in touch with other organisations, such as the Food Foundation – we’re hoping to come together at some point for one big campaign,” she added.

“At the strike, different people reacted differently – everybody was quite well, but one person was really poorly from not eating.

“I felt so connected with the reality for so many mothers and I think when you’re not eating yourself, that hits you really hard.

“Luckily, my family have always been relatively comfortable but I’m absolutely heartbroken for those who are not.”

Looking to the future, Mrs Hopkins said: “I’d say that we’re facing multiple crises at the moment, in terms of the climate, ecological and social crisis.

“But, the future is not set – we can change the future and we know we can and that we must.

“This is why we’re doing this action, because we want to make a future when no child goes hungry, and when no child starves to death.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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