A FOREST mum took part in a six-day hunger strike in Westminster last week in a bid to convince the government to help mothers who are struggling to feed themselves and their children.

Mother-of-two Anna-Clare Palmer, who lives in Viney Hill, joined nine other mums in London and many more across the UK in a hunger strike from Mother’s Day (Sunday, March 19) until Friday, March 24.

The group are part of a campaign called Mothers Manifesto, which aims to raise awareness of the mothers who are struggling to feed themselves and their families because of the cost of living crisis in a bid to secure more support from the government. 

The ten seated themselves outside Whitehall opposite Downing Street all week, where they displayed information and spoke to passers by, including several MPs, about their cause during the day.

They were provided with free accommodation to stay nearby overnight.

Anna said the vast majority of people she engaged with during the week were in “total agreement” that the current cost of living situation is “shocking and disgraceful”. 

The group also added a poingant, personal touch to the protest by making and displaying felt hearts bearing the names of their own children.

Anna, who raised her two sons Max and Charley in the Forest, said of her personal motivation for taking part: “When I was young I was told, as were we all probably, to finish what was on my plate and be grateful for it because there were people in other parts of the world who didn’t have enough to eat. 

“Those people were always expected to be in far off places where the weather was unpredictable and governments were less stable than our own. 

“Now we find that people in our own country are struggling to put enough food on their tables and not as a result of famine, pestilence or war but because of economic and social policy. 

“Our government has made choices that have resulted in one in four single parents skipping meals in order to be able keep their children adequately fed and that is not acceptable in a country that is wealthy and claims to be civilised. 

“Choosing to fast for seven days and peacefully picket Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament while doing so felt an appropriate way to draw attention to the plight of many in our country who are suffering.”

Mothers Manifesto are calling on the government to make sure all children in the UK have enough to eat by providing free school meals for all, introducing a basic rate of Universal Credit and implementing a Living Wage as minimum for workers.

The manifesto reads: “We have some of the most severe food insecurity in all of Europe. This is not something to be proud of. 

“The situation is worse globally, with around fourteen million children at risk of death from severe hunger and malnutrition.”

It adds: “Too little has been done to address this situation.” 

They are also calling for the government to keep its promises on the climate crisis, with food insecurity only going to escalate as the crisis deepens.

The group have criticised the government for having given almost £11 billion in subsidies to oil and gas companies like Equinor, Shell and BP, whose products “directly contribute” to the worsening crisis. 

“These companies have all just posted record profits and paid out billions to their shareholders”, the manifesto continues.

“High fossil energy prices are accelerating this transfer of wealth from taxpayers to corporate shareholders. At the same time, these high prices are making food insecurity worse by forcing mothers to choose between heating and eating. Without rapid and positive action to address the climate crisis, food insecurity will escalate with devastating consequences, including here in the UK. Decisive action can change this.” 

The hunger strike received national media attention including from climate journalist George Monbiot, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, Sky and ITV.

Former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP visited the strikers on Tuesday (March 21), and tweeted that “no child should go hungry and no mother should have to skip meals to feed children”.

More information abou the campaign can be found at www.mothermanifesto.com.