Self-styled ‘human megaphone’ Emma Thompson joins youngsters at Westminster

Dame Emma Thompson is today lobbying MPs to take ‘urgent political action’ on ‘Dickensian’ child food poverty. 

Throwing herself behind a second cause in less than a week, the actress has joined youngsters in Westminster this morning as they call for an independent children’s food watchdog to provide schoolchildren with free meals.

This comes days after the star raised eyebrows when she jetted into Heathrow Airport having flown some 5,400 miles to rally with climate change protesters in central London

Dame Emma told the inquiry today: ‘The level of hunger children are experiencing is a moral outrage. We must stop being in a state of extreme denial.

‘I’m just a human megaphone, the real stars here today are our ambassadors – the children and young people.’

The actress (pictured, speaking at the event) has joined youngsters in Westminster this morning as they call for an independent children's food watchdog to provide schoolchildren with free meals

The actress (pictured, speaking at the event) has joined youngsters in Westminster this morning as they call for an independent children's food watchdog to provide schoolchildren with free meals

The actress (pictured, speaking at the event) has joined youngsters in Westminster this morning as they call for an independent children’s food watchdog to provide schoolchildren with free meals

Dame Emma told the inquiry today: 'The level of hunger children are experiencing is a moral outrage. We must stop being in a state of extreme denial'

Dame Emma told the inquiry today: 'The level of hunger children are experiencing is a moral outrage. We must stop being in a state of extreme denial'

Dame Emma told the inquiry today: ‘The level of hunger children are experiencing is a moral outrage. We must stop being in a state of extreme denial’

Emma Thompson arrived at Marble Arch last Thursday to support climate change protesters before joining them again on a pink boat in Oxford Circus on Friday.

Emma Thompson arrived at Marble Arch last Thursday to support climate change protesters before joining them again on a pink boat in Oxford Circus on Friday.

Emma Thompson arrived at Marble Arch last Thursday to support climate change protesters before joining them again on a pink boat in Oxford Circus on Friday.

Dame Emma Thompson today defended flying some 5,400 miles to join climate change protests in London last week (pictured)

Dame Emma Thompson today defended flying some 5,400 miles to join climate change protests in London last week (pictured)

Dame Emma Thompson today defended flying some 5,400 miles to join climate change protests in London last week (pictured)

What is the Children’s Future Food Inquiry? 

The Children’s Future Food Inquiry calls for urgent political action on ‘child food insecurity.’

Their key proposal is for a new Children’s Food Watchdog, which will stand as an independent body, with children and young people involved in its leadership.

The report was initiated by a cross-party group of MPs, peers and experts and addresses issues including holiday hunger, unhealthy food marketing and the stigma attached to free school meals.

It is demanding free meals in nurseries, holiday food vouchers and an independent children’s food watchdog to monitor the quality of school meals.

It also calls on taxes on fast-food outlets set up near schools and an increase in the free school meal allowance from an average of £2.30 to £4 a day. 

The Inquiry will focus on children who are disadvantaged across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

Organisations involved in the Inquiry include The Food Foundation, Fixers, Food Sense Wales, Children in Wales, Children in Scotland, Children in Northern Ireland, Leeds Beckett University and the University of Kent. 

Dame Emma, an ambassador for the Children’s Future Food Inquiry, has been joined by children at the Westminster launch of the inquiry’s final report, which calls for urgent political action on ‘child food insecurity.’  

Her speech in Westminster today comes one week after she joined climate change protesters at Marble Arch and Oxford Circus in London. 

But she was forced to defend herself when accused oh ‘hypocrisy’ for flying some 5,400 miles from Los Angeles to join the rally. 

She told BBC radio 4’s Today programme this morning that she understood the criticism, but said she, ‘offsets her carbon footprint by planting trees.’   

Speaking about the Future Food Inquiry, the actress added: ‘In a wealthy society that claims to value compassion and humanity, how can we tolerate the injustice of millions of children going hungry?

‘In the face of the Government’s refusal to help, the Children’s Future Food Inquiry has brought together hundreds of young people to hear about their lived experience of food poverty, and it’s time we listened to what they say.

‘It’s the younger generation who will deliver the change that’s so urgently needed: we must act now to ensure every child in the UK has their right to food.’

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Dame Emma also said she would go into schools opening up specially over the Easter break to feed children. 

She added: ‘I may have lived an incredibly privileged life, but I am not daft. I know a lot of teachers who have bought food to feed pupils.’  

The star described herself as 'a human megaphone,' adding: 'The real stars here today are our ambassadors - the children and young people'

The star described herself as 'a human megaphone,' adding: 'The real stars here today are our ambassadors - the children and young people'

The star described herself as ‘a human megaphone,’ adding: ‘The real stars here today are our ambassadors – the children and young people’

Dame Emma accused of ‘hypocrisy’ over climate change stunt  

She told BBC radio 4's Today programme this morning that she understood the criticism, but said she offsets her carbon footprint by planting trees

She told BBC radio 4's Today programme this morning that she understood the criticism, but said she offsets her carbon footprint by planting trees

She told BBC radio 4’s Today programme this morning that she understood the criticism, but said she offsets her carbon footprint by planting trees

Emma Thompson arrived at Marble Arch last Thursday to support climate change protesters before joining them again on a pink boat in Oxford Circus on Friday.

Eyebrows were raised however, as the actress had flown back to London’s Heathrow Airport from Los Angeles the day before.

Many protesters have demanded that the government impose limits on how many times people can fly each year, and Extinction Rebellion activist Robin Boardman-Pattison said during a television interview this week that ‘air travel should only be used in emergencies.’

A flight from Los Angeles International Airport to London Heathrow generates at least 1.67 tonnes of CO2.  

Dame Emma Thompson today defended flying some 5,400 miles to join climate change protests, saying: ‘It’s very difficult to do my job without occasionally flying.’ 

She told BBC radio 4’s Today programme this morning that she understood the criticism, but said she offsets her carbon footprint by planting trees.

She said: ‘It’s very difficult to do my job without occasionally flying, although I do fly a lot less than I did.

‘But we are caught because to travel at all by aeroplane is impossible without causing damage to the planet.

‘I’m in the very fortunate position of being able to offset my carbon footprint, but most people can’t.’

The 60-year-old, whose credits include Sense And Sensibility and Love Actually, went on: ‘We should all fly less. We’re all going to have to fly less.

‘It will be inevitable in our lives because we cannot continue to use fossil fuels in the way that we have been doing. It’s very difficult to let go of, it’s a bit like smoking actually.

‘We do now know that fossil fuels are threatening the future of the planet so yes it’s unhappy and an inconvenience and indeed we’re often involved in situations where we will be hypocritical but if we don’t address this we are failing our children and our grandchildren.

‘The future of this planet is at stake and that’s perhaps more important than our own reputations.’

Asked if she is tempted to go into politics, Dame Emma replied: ‘Oh god no’.

Evidence for the inquiry was gathered from workshops with nearly 400 children in 13 different locations around the UK, an academic review of child food insecurity, polling of young people, submissions of evidence from people working with children, a UK-wide policy review and secondary analysis of Government data on the affordability of a healthy diet. 

Inquiry co-chairwoman Sharon Hodgson said: ‘Children are falling through the safety net, and families are having to rely upon charities and service providers for things such as breakfast clubs, holiday provision and food banks.

‘These children, and their families, need support from the Government in order to have access to healthy and affordable food.

‘The Government must take this issue of food poverty seriously, and it must include young people in the conversation.’  

The actress at the gala screening for Say My Name at the Odeon Luxe in Leicester Square on Tuesday

The actress at the gala screening for Say My Name at the Odeon Luxe in Leicester Square on Tuesday

The actress at the gala screening for Say My Name at the Odeon Luxe in Leicester Square on Tuesday

Food Foundation executive director Anna Taylor added: ‘Children living in poverty have told this inquiry directly that they don’t have enough to eat, and that the food their parents can afford is harming their health.

‘We should care about unlocking our children’s potential, but instead the food insecurity experienced by millions of young people in the UK is hindering their growth, crippling their confidence and making it impossible to learn and develop.

‘The inquiry’s report and its recommendations prove that there are things we can do right now to make sure children have enough nutritious food.

‘It’s an opportunity to right the wrongs we have tolerated for too long – we cannot let it pass us by.’

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