Mothers in hunger strike outside UK Parliament to highlight child food insecurity

They plan to fast from Sunday to Thursday and will then meet MPs to discuss actionable steps forward

The mothers taking part in the protest plan to strike without food from Sunday to Thursday. PA
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Six mothers are to undertake a five-day hunger strike outside the UK Parliament starting on Mother's Day.

They aim to cast a spotlight on the growing crisis of child food insecurity, advocating for parents who are forced to skip meals to ensure their children have enough to eat.

Organised by the Mother's Manifesto, the mothers plan to fast from Sunday to Thursday, culminating in a meeting with MPs to discuss actionable steps forward.

The protesters' demands include: enforcing policies to guarantee that no child in the UK goes hungry, including universal free school meals and comprehensive universal credit.

Additionally, they call for the government to fulfil its commitments on foreign aid and climate change and to establish a robust windfall tax on the record profits of oil and gas corporations.

Scheduled to protest daily from 11am to 4pm, the group will find respite at a nearby Buddhism centre at night.

This hunger strike marks the second of its kind, following a six-day fast outside Downing Street the previous year.

Emma Hopkins, a 55-year-old herbalist from Totnes, Devon, and the campaign's organiser, emphasised the symbolic significance of selecting Mother's Day for the protest.

“It’s a day dedicated to celebrating the nurturing and caring role of mothers. Yet, the harsh reality is that many mothers across the UK and the world are unable to provide necessities for their children,” she said, highlighting the widespread child poverty in one of the world's wealthiest countries.

Joining the core group of strikers are eight other women, participating for shorter durations due to personal constraints such as health issues or work commitments.

The protest will feature a display of empty plates and cutlery outside Parliament, symbolising the unmet needs of hungry children in the country.

The initiative is grounded in alarming statistics from the Food Foundation charity, which reports that over a quarter of households with children in the UK experienced food insecurity in the past month, impacting about four million children.

Last year's hunger strike led to a productive meeting with Parliament and garnered the support of 10 MPs, laying the groundwork for broader collaborative efforts.

Despite the challenges faced during the strike, including health issues from fasting, the participants remain committed to their cause.

Ms Hopkins reflects on the profound connection and empathy she felt with struggling mothers, underscoring the urgency of their mission to secure a future where no child suffers from hunger.

She 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.”

Updated: March 10, 2024, 3:15 AM