Former Wales football legend Nathan Blake shares his thoughts with us around StreetGames and the Fit and Fed Campaign.

Q1. Were you surprised by the statistics around holiday hunger and the scale of the problem?
Not really, I think it's easy to tell yourself that these things are no longer prevalent in our country, but the truth is it does still exist and it is getting worse. If you're looking at the stats over the last 10 to 15 years - it's easy to say it's a minority that live in this situation, but if you are one of that minority as a child, the outcome for you is that you can often go hungry. Should that be the case in this day and age? It's a shameful statistic when you really, really think about it.

Q2. Were you aware of the problems families on low incomes experience and choices they have to make?
I was very aware and I understand it because I lived that life as a child with a single mum who had four children.  My mum lived from December 25 to December 25 basically, the difference now is the amount of pressure parents in this situation are under.  It must be incredibly difficult (relentless even) when you look at what is available to kids in particular today, and what was available to people such as myself in my day.  I'm talking about the 70s and the 80s, it has to be overwhelming for parents who find themselves in that situation today. I think the powers that be need to do a lot better to balance society.

Q3. What are your thoughts around charities like StreetGames who are trying to raise awareness and provide a solution?
I think StreetGames does great work - fantastic work in fact - and without organisations such as them, the scale of this problem would be far greater. However, I'm sure all at StreetGames and others would agree, they prefer not to have this sort of situation arise in the first place, but with things being the way they are, we have to consider ourselves fortunate to have organisations such as StreetGames who clearly care and help try to reduce these sorts of problems in today's society.  We seem to be unable or unwilling to eradicate these sorts of problems, but we always live in hope.

Q4. What are the affects/differences you have seen Fit and Fed make to the children taking part in a session? 
That's hard to state in truth - but I have seen that most children who participate are happy because they know they are either going to be fed prior to the session or after the session, generally people get very grumpy when they're hungry - imagine not knowing when or where your next meal is coming from or having the knowledge that when you get home tonight there will be no food on the table for you. That has to be an incredibly difficult situation to live with on a day-to-day basis, imagine being in that situation or having that situation approach during school holidays. It's got to be incredibly difficult for a child. How can a child remain happy or positive living in that situation?

Q5. You have a good knowledge of StreetGames and the difference sport can make to the lives of young people – what impact does a sport session have on young people and what difference have you seen?
A single or weekly session has little or no impact, in fact I would say it would raise a child's hopes, when really and truly there is little or no hope. However, sustained sessions where a child can come on a weekly or daily basis has a huge impact.  I've witnessed this first hand in different parts of the country with StreetGames and other organisations I've volunteered for. The key is not to give, then take away after 6-12 or 18 months - but to sustain the sessions over a longer period of time, [sustain] what is good - look to build upon and make better [the project], stronger and long lasting so it becomes part of a child's daily or weekly regime/routine.

Q6. What is your personal experience of sport and growing up in a tough environment?
 I had a great experience on my local estate we had Spencer Boys Club, it was mainly for football, but being a boys club, we also participated in other sports such as badminton, table tennis, basketball, darts, pool cricket and baseball. It was run largely by Harry and Vicky Lee, they were a godsend for a lot of children on the Ringland estate, from the age of 8 or 9 yrs to 15 or 16yrs.  Harry and Vicky basically ran the boys club on their own with thousands of kids from the estate passing through the boys club. I couldn't list the amount of things they did for the children of Ringland but, believe me, it would take a book to write down all the good things they did for children, I'd go as far to say they were a Godsend, God rest them both.

Q7. How/what can the general public, policy makers, corporations, business etc.  do to help fight holiday hunger?
This question slightly aggrieves me because if the so-called 'most intelligent and intellectual' of our society need people like me or organisations such as StreetGames to tell them what's needed in the poorer areas of society, then we've already lost.  I'm not going to plead for help,  what I'd say is the stats speak for themselves, Government policy makers, corporations, businesses all set their watches on statistics.  I'd urge those who want to help to take a long moment and think of their own situation- if their circumstances had been different as a child they too could quite easily have been one of these statistics, and think how would they feel going hungry on a daily or weekly basis? Then make change because they have the power to do so. 

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