A couple of nights ago I caught Poor Kids on BBC. I didn’t see the start of the programme and it was on quite late at 23:05, but I was so moved by what I saw in the programme I stayed up to watch it. I felt it was my duty to be informed. After all if you don’t know about something you can’t do anything about it.
The documentary tells the stories of some of the 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK. 3.5 million.
It is one of the worst child poverty rates in the industrialised world, and successive governments continue to struggle to bring it into line. So who are these children, and where are they living? Under-represented, under-nourished and often under the radar, 3.5 million children should be given a voice. And this powerful film does just that.
Eight-year-old Courtney, 10-year-old Paige and 11-year-old Sam live in different parts of the UK. Breathtakingly honest and eloquent, they give testament to how having no money affects their lives: lack of food, being bullied and having nowhere to play. The children might be indignant about their situation now, but this may not be enough to help them. Their thoughts on their futures are sobering.
Sam's 16-year-old sister Kayleigh puts it all into context, as she tells how the effects of poverty led her to take extreme measures to try and escape it all.
Poor Kids puts the children on centre stage, and they command it with honesty and directness. It's time for everyone to listen.
Watching the programme has made me aware of how grateful I am for the life I have. We are by no means rich, but we can afford for me to be a full time Mum without the need to claim benefits. Jamie is 6 soon and has asked for a Nintendo DS for his birthday, and you know what – he’ll get one. He won’t get much more, but he’ll get one. We have no debts, own our luxury cars, and go on holiday. We realise how fortunate we are and we are careful with our finances so that we can live the life we have without worry of where the next meal is coming from or how we’ll pay the fuel bills. There is something we can cut back on if we need to.
My parents weren’t cash rich, but I never missed meals, always had clothes that fit me. I was bullied at school, had cruel friends at times in my life, but I was never bullied because of the clothes I wore.
We give generously to things like Comic Relief and Children in Need but somehow that just doesn’t feel enough anymore. We donate physical things for children whose Mothers are victims of domestic abuse and find themselves in the many Women's Refuges around York, often with just the clothes on their backs, but I need to find a new way to help to do something about the children living in poverty right here in my area. I don’t live in a bubble, never have done, but I feel the need to actively seek a way to help a family who just need the simple things to improve their quality of life.
Will you join me?