Local mother and grandmother Erika Curren, from Gunnislake Cornwall is one of a group of mothers who embarked on a six-day hunger strike outside 10 Downing Street on Mothers’ Day in order to demand decisive, co-ordinated action from the UK government on food poverty and the climate crisis.

The mothers undertook the hunger strike in unity and solidarity with the one in four mothers in the UK who are skipping meals to feed their children and other mothers globally whose children are suffering severe hunger and malnutrition as a result of the climate crisis.

Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the UNFCCC and co-host of the climate podcast Outrage + Optimism said: “No child should be hungry, no child need be hungry if we only assume our urgent responsibility on inequality. Climate change is accelerating this crisis and we need to address it now. These brave women striking in solidarity with mothers should be listened to in the U.K. and around the world”

Linking the high price of fossil-fuel-based energy with food insecurity, as well as the impacts of the climate crisis on our food systems, the striking mothers have recognised the need for a systemic approach to change. They are calling on the UK government to play a transformative role in bringing about a world in which all children can thrive by taking coordinated action across a number of interconnected issues.

The mothers detail their demands in a Mothers’ Manifesto for Change, which outlines in stark terms the state of food insecurity in the United Kingdom and around the world. Their calls to action include making sure all children in the UK have enough to eat; that the UK government keeps its promises on foreign aid and climate, and for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies’ excessive profits.

Erika said: “The stark contrast between those ‘with’ and those ‘without’ is greater in this country than I have ever known it in my 65 years. I was a young mum at 18, poor but able to feed us. As a community worker supporting families in some of the most disadvantaged areas of Plymouth in the ’80s, I don’t remember this kind of food poverty. It really shocks me that we have come to this.”

Jo Hook, Co-Founder and managing director of NGO Tenwa, also joining the strike, said: “When I read the Mothers Manifesto requests to the British Government I felt compelled to support these brave women. In my work in Malawi I have seen first hand the effect of the climate crisis and how cuts to the International Aid budget have led to a reduction in the support we can offer, resulting in many families having less food. The British government is currently failing to take adequate action to tackle the climate emergency. This has to change”.

Dr Grace Thompson, one of the striking mothers said: “I am hunger striking from Mothers Day in solidarity with all the patients and families I have worked with directly and who cannot feed their children. I see families in the UK affected by food poverty on a daily basis. How can our children thrive and be well when they are hungry? I am here to say ‘this is not OK, we are not OK’.

“It is a political choice to protect fossil fuel companies’ profits over having a habitable planet and food security in every country for every child. The future looks worryingly uncertain for all children of the world, including my own. I am a Mother standing up to say this is wrong and it doesn’t need to be this way”.

The protesters urged other mothers who have their health and felt able to take part in a peaceful protest to support them by joining the hunger strike for all or part of the six days.

Poet Benjamin Zephaniah has offered his words of support too. He said he was dedicating his I Luv Me Mudder poem to the mothers going on hunger strike this Mother’s Day in support of the Mother’s Manifesto “because I know women really struggling to raise their families because they are getting a raw financial deal from this government. These women cannot take any more. This is why I’m supporting and I urge you to support this too”.

Follow them on Instagram: instagram.com/mothers_mani festo/ or Facebook: facebook.com/groups/715276610078437