Lewisham NEU (National Education Union) have voted to send a motion entitled “No child should go hungry in our schools” (motion 109) to our union's national conference this year. We are calling for action to rectify the shameful situation in which some of the poorest and most vulnerable children in our schools are denied meals under the government’s invidious No Recourse to Public Funding (NRPF) designation. NRPF is a label government puts on certain migrants, meaning they have no access to benefits: the aim is to leave them at the mercy of hyper- exploitative employers, or drive them out of the country.
All children in school up to Year 3 (age 7-8) get free school meals. After this age, access to free school meals is dependent on claiming benefits. The consequence of this is that children who need free school meals, but whose parents are subject to NRPF, cannot get them. Either they go hungry, or their parents are sent bills they cannot afford to pay.
Activists from North East London Migrant Action (NELMA), Labour Campaign for Free Movement and those from the Education Solidarity Network (ESN) in the NEU are working together to raise the issue. They highlight that some councils such have Southwark have agreed to fund school meals for children with NRPF, ensuring that no child in their borough starves. They are calling on other councils to follow suit. NELMA will soon be issuing a toolkit to help local campaigners.
Activists from the ESN and others in the NEU are now working to ensure the motion from Lewisham NEU on the issue is prioritised, to ensure it is discussed at NEU National Conference in April. If you are an NEU member please go to your next division meeting and argue for Motion 109 to be prioritised.
Also in Lewisham: Lewisham Deptford Labour has voted to send a motion to London Labour regional conference against NRPF policies and the hostile environment in the context of local government. The motion challenges those Labour-run councils that remain complicit in anti-migrant practices. LCFM reports in more detail at https://www.labourfreemovement.org/against-the-hostile-environment-in-l….
by David Pendletone