LBC presenter Nick Ferrari today used his radio show to talk about the number of teachers who have identified a need to bring toothpaste and toothbrushes into school for their pupils. He’s right that this is a shocking indication of the number of families who are struggling to meet their children’s basic needs at the moment. However, what he said next has sparked an outraged reaction across social media.
‘If you are a mum and/or a dad and you haven’t got money to buy your child a toothbrush,’ he said, ‘you should never have become a parent in the first place.’
Pregnant Then Screwed’s Joeli Brearley was one of the first to respond. ‘Do you really not understand that people can lose their jobs, and that interest rates are going through the roof, so people can’t put meals on the table at the moment,’ she said on Instagram. ‘What parents need is support and care, and a system that works for them so that they can work and have children.’
Photographer Misan Harriman also responded on Instagram, with a thoughtful and articulate video describing ‘the cycle of poverty and the shame that mothers and fathers have, and the cost of living crisis that we’re in… and then you have a statement like this on a popular radio station by a man with a large platform.’
He said the statement ‘could seriously harm parents already in a place that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy’, going on to say that vulnerable parents need help, not criticism.
‘We have to be better than this,’ he said, telling struggling parents directly: ‘Hold steady. There are enough good people in this country, and in the communities you live in, that will help you.’
Over on Twitter, Carol Voderman calmly pointed out the ridiculousness of Nick Ferrari’s rant.
Meanwhile, journalist and beauty entrepreneur Sali Hughes launched Beauty Banks in 2018 to fight ‘hygiene poverty’, providing soap, shampoo, toothpaste and sanitary products to those who can’t afford it. Today she launched The Tooth Hurts campaign to combat the dental crisis for kids in poverty.
This is the kind of thoughtful, proactive initiative that these vulnerable families need right now, in lieu of any proper support from the government. Not to be shamed by Nick Ferrari.