Mums from Totnes joined a six day hunger strike outside Downing Street on Mother’s Day to demand decisive, co-ordinated action from the UK government on poverty and the climate crisis.

The Devon mothers went without food for nearly a week from March 19 to highlight the findings of the Food Foundation charity, that one in four mothers in the UK are skipping meals to feed their children.

They also went on the six day hunger strike to highlight the plight of other mothers globally whose children are suffering severe hunger and malnutrition as a result of the climate crisis.

Organiser and catalyst of the Mothers Manifesto campaign, Emma Hopkins, a herbalist and mother-of-four of Totnes, said: “There are enough resources and food for everyone according to the United Nations. So why are children starving to death?

“Why in the UK one of the richest nations are mothers skipping meals to feed their children? This is a political choice.”

Chantelle Norton, co-ordinator of the Totnes-based Food in Community and mother to a teenage boy said, “I’m using my privilege to choose to hunger strike in solidarity with all parents in the UK and around the world who are food insecure.

“The actions we are calling for will improve food security for everyone, and ensure those on the lowest incomes have enough at a time when when prices are rising faster than incomes.”

Plymouth doctor Karen Gilmore added: “According to a report from the Food Foundation in January 2023, 3.7 million children in the UK experienced food insecurity. This is a political choice and utterly shameful”.

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 hunger strikers were hailed “brave” by Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, who 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 UK and around the world”

Celebrated poet Benjamin Zephaniah has offered his words of support and dedicated his ‘I Luv Me Mudder’ poem to the mothers going on hunger strike, saying: “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.”