A GROUND-BREAKING anti-poverty project in one of the toughest
neighbourhoods in New York is the inspiration for a new scheme to
help deprived children and families in the West Midlands.
The Children's Society has announced that it will launch a
Children and Family Zone in northern Solihull, near Birmingham,
modelled on the Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ), in New York.
The HCZ was started in the 1990s, and sought to provide
pre-school support, education, health care, crime-prevention
advice, and help with college and careers to poor children from
birth until university at 18.
It has been praised by President Obama, and the US government
launched its "Promise Neighbourhood" programme in 2010 in an
attempt to replicate its success across the country.
In a statement, the Children's Society said that its new zone
would include after-school clubs, parenting programmes, support for
drug addicts, debt advice, and help for teenagers.
The area director of the Children's Society, Rob Willoughby,
said: "By creating a Children and Family Zone in north Solihull we
can bring the remarkable success of Harlem to one of the most
deprived areas of the country. We want to make sure families can
get the skills and support they need to be more independent and
help their children thrive."
The society said that 175,000 children were living in povertyin
the West Midlands, and, of the seven local authorities in
theregion, three had more than 30 per cent of children below the
In one northern ward of Solihull, the percentage of children in
poverty reached 39.9 per cent in 2010. The charity also said that
it had the backing of the commun-ity in this endeavour - a survey
had suggested that 76 per cent of Solihull residents supported
theidea of a Children and FamilyZone.
The chief executive of the Children's Society, Matthew Reed,
said: "By working together with services across the region, from
within the heart of the poorest areas, we can put an end to
children being trapped in the destructive cycle of poverty. Poverty
and neglect are not foregone conclusions. Together we can help make
them a thing of the past."