Church leaders unite to launch Child Benefit campaign

The Moderator of the General Assembly and a prominent Roman Catholic bishop are backing a new campaign aimed at lifting 30,000 children out of poverty.

Right Rev Dr Derek Browning and William Nolan, Bishop of Galloway have said they fully support the Give Me Five initiative, which is seeking a £5 a week increase in child benefit per person.

For families struggling to make ends meet, the extra money could mean a week of proper breakfasts, a warm school coat or the ability to share in out-of-school activities.

The Give Me Five campaign is being officially launched at the Conforti Institute in Coatbridge on Wednesday.

It is urging the Scottish Government to use its new powers to make a real difference to the lives of families.

Campaigners said the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill was to be welcomed as it sets out ambitious targets to eradicate child poverty in Scotland by 2030.

But they argue that urgent action is needed now to meet the needs of the 260,000 children living in poverty today in Scotland.

God of justice

Dr Browning said: ‘It is a political, social and moral imperative that we act now to effect change for the good.

“The Church of Scotland stands alongside people of all faith traditions, and none, in the move towards fairness for all our children.”

Dr Browning said the Church of Scotland believes in a “God of justice, a God who speaks out for the disadvantaged, the left behind, the ignored and the voiceless”.

William Nolan, Bishop of Galloway and Bishop and President of the Justice & Peace Scotland Commission, is also backing the campaign.

“For a growing number of children, this is not the Scotland of equality, fairness and opportunity that our politicians tell us they wish to achieve,” he added.

“I would urge politicians of all parties to support this initiative and act now to reduce the number of our children for whom poverty is destroying their childhood and stifling their future.”

The campaign is backed by organisations including the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, Poverty Alliance, Children 1st.

Sir Harry Burns, Professor of Global Public Health at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and a former Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, is also supporting it.