Children urged to write poems to fight food bank stigma
CHILDREN of St Helens are invited to write a short poem about hunger and what it means to them, in a national competition organized by the anti-poverty charity Trussell Trust, which supports a network of food banks across the UK.
The charity is calling on young people ages 9 and under to create and draw a starving character and tell their story in the form of a short poem – as part of its Bye Bye Hunger contest.
The top twenty entries will be published in a book of poetry and a star award winner will see their character come to life in a Trussell Trust campaign to end the need for food banks. The deadline for registrations is Sunday May 30. It is hoped that the poems written by the children will help reduce the stigma surrounding those using food banks and call for an end to hunger.
The contest kicks off a time when many St Helens rely more than ever on food banks to feed their children. The Trussell Trust distributed 2,555 emergency food packages * for children in crisis in St Helens between April 2020 and March 2021. *
The idea for the Bye Bye Hunger contest was inspired by a mother who sent a poem to the Trussell Trust earlier this year about how she was judged to need a food bank to feed her child.
The Trussell Trust turned his poem into a short film, which was backed by celebrities including musician Liam Payne, comedian Dawn French and Simon King of The Hairy Bikers. The poem asks if it is acceptable that the fifth richest country in the world needs food banks to feed its children.
Explaining how she could not afford to feed herself or her young child, the mother’s poem includes the phrase: “I needed free food because I didn’t have enough money, I didn’t have enough money. ‘did not have enough food in my child’s womb ”.
The competition will aim to continue the conversation about poverty and hunger and encourage the youth of St Helens to call for a future without hunger.
A panel of famous judges – including comedian Dom Joly, actress Tamzin Outhwaite and children’s winner Cressida Cowell – were chosen to select the winning entries. They will look for children to showcase their imaginations, their use of language, their emotions and their tales in their poems.
Dom Joly said, “The Bye Bye Hunger Poetry Contest is a great opportunity for us adults to learn from the much wiser and brighter minds of children nine and under. They see things we don’t see and I can’t wait to see their creativity in action – and the hunger-free future they paint for us.
Tamzin, who played Mel Owen in Eastenders, said: “The mother’s poem was so heartbreaking. We need to stop and think about this and together create a future without hunger. That’s why I’m proud to be a Judge for the Bye Bye Hunger Poetry Contest It’s a wonderful way for kids to share their amazing imaginations and show us all what a future without hunger is like.
Children have until Sunday May 30 to submit their entries.
Learn more and enter trusselltrust.org/poems