Local, national, global

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In a world of uncertainty and horror, we must not forget fundamental human values, argues Cathy Nutbrown.

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Professor Cathy Nutbrown

I could write about many things in my column this month and they concern local, national and global happenings affecting young children and their families - and those who work with them.

We have seen the horrors of earthquakes in Nepal, where death, destruction, hunger and fear have attracted an international response to help; the suffering there is difficult for many to comprehend.

We have seen the desperation of many seeking refuge in Europe, as they board boats to cross the Mediterranean Sea in hope of a better life, Hundreds, many children, never complete the journey.

We have seen the outcomes of the 2015 UK General Election and now anticipate the policies of a new Government and its impact on the lives of children and families and on those who work with and for families and children.

Locally, this week, I saw a mother crying as she and her two small children walked into a food bank. Some food banks are closing because, despite donations, the minimal funding needed to keep them going is no longer available and so willing volunteers can no longer operate them.

Many things lead to a horror for many young children, their families and those who work with and for them. Underpinning a response to all of these must be some fundamental values about humanity, families' needs, children's rights and social justice.

In the 1920s Margaret McMillan campaigned for the provision of free school meals, arguing that hungry children could not learn. She thought locally, nationally and globally. If she worried about a hungry child in her nursery in London, she worried about hungry children all over the world, and believed that child hunger, child poverty and child health were realities that politicians had the responsibility to address.

Some families face a daily and weekly struggle to make ends meet. There are young children around the world who go to sleep and wake up hungry - and this must change. As citizens of this small world we need to take stock, face the future, and challenge the inequalities of poverty that lead to hunger, fear and exclusion. Good early childhood education and care begins with ensuring the well-being and basic needs of all our young children.

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