Birmingham & Black Country

Poorer children in Birmingham 'should go free to sports events'

Two young Aston Villa fans Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The report says free access to venues such as Aston Villa Football Club would help to bridge Birmingham's poverty gap

Poor children in Birmingham should be given free access to cultural and sports venues, a report has suggested.

The report, It Takes a City to Raise a Child, was compiled by the Birmingham Commission for Children, a research group set up by the city council and backed by The Children's Society.

It said offering free access to sports grounds and museums would help bridge the poverty divide.

The council said it would consider the recommendations.

'Difficult journey'

The report said that 31% of youngsters in the city were living in poverty last year, compared with the 27% UK average.

The commission, which was set up by the city council in June, said venues such as libraries, museums and Aston Villa Football Club should allow poorer children to access their facilities for free.

The Children's Society, which supported the commission's work, said organisations such as Aston Villa and Birmingham Royal Ballet had found it difficult to get poorer children to access their facilities.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The report said some poor children faced a "difficult journey" to access cultural attractions

It added that although many cultural attractions, such as libraries and museums, were free, it could be a "difficult journey" for a child in poverty to feel able to access such facilities.

Rob Willoughby, from The Children's Society, said: "Too many children in Birmingham are isolated from what the city has to offer, whether that's services, attractions, events and amenities."

It called on the council to draw together such attractions as part of a "coherent offer" for poorer families.

The society said the commission had not been set up as a response to criticism of the council's children's services, which were labelled "inadequate" by Ofsted in May.

"The report is entirely separate to the safeguarding issues in the city," the society said. "The commission was set up to look at the long-term aspirations for children in Birmingham."

The city council said it needed to "think very hard" about whether or not it agreed with the recommendations.

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