Posted: 10 June 2011

Why it's important we support the 'poor kids'

On Tuesday night I sat down to watch 'Poor Kids', a BBC1 documentary illustrating the heartbreaking reality of growing up in poverty in the UK today. It followed three children from across Britain living in dire conditions with parents struggling to put food on the table. The children had very few toys and nowhere to play.

Refreshingly, it was the children themselves that told their stories, and they gave a unique insight into the struggles they face on a daily basis.

It was also refreshing that the programme took a non-judgemental look at these children's lives, no blame was placed, it simply illustrated the devastating impact poverty can have on their well-being.

Low well-being

This message is echoed by recent research from The Children's Society that found a clear link between low household income and a child's low well-being.

The stories of the children followed were not uncommon as the programme highlighted that there are currently 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK – one of the highest levels in the industrialised world.

The work that we do

The Children's Society provides support for some of the most vulnerable children and young people through our specialist services and children's centres. The role of the Policy team at The Children's Society is to communicate the views and experiences of these disadvantaged children to those in power in order to influence policy and ultimately improve children's lives.

Welfare Reform Bill

The 'Poor Kids' documentary should be essential viewing for the policy makers and politicians who are currently putting together a new welfare benefits system, detailed in the Welfare Reform Bill that's going through Parliament.

The Children's Society has serious concerns that this Bill could lead to substantial reductions in support for the poorest families especially those with disabled children and those with high childcare costs.

For example, we estimate that some families with disabled children could have their level of support halved, losing up to £1400 per year under the new system. And due to changes in childcare support some families, particularly single parents, will be worse off by working.

We are raising these issues with decision makers and parliamentarians to ensure the new system provides the vital support needed for children living in poverty.
For me, the strongest message to come out of the 'Poor Kids' documentary was the right that all children should have to grow up free from the scourge of poverty as they are not directly responsible for their situation, and as one child in the programme said 'our circumstances are out of our control'.

By Laura Rodrigues, Policy Officer at The Children's Society


By Laura Rodrigues - Policy team

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I have just watched "Poor Kids" on BBC iPlayer and am truly shocked at the lives these poor children have! It really does make me want to do something to help, but I just don't know what I could do without funds :( I 100% agree with everything said on a previous comment made by Jennifer. I fully understand helping other countries out with poverty but when poverty is in the UK and only down the road from many of us we need to act on it!! These people need a chance in life, they shouldn't be worrying about not having any electricity/food/heating they should be enjoying their young lives. Come on Mr Cameron sort the government out!!

I agree with Jennifer. Poor people need educating especially when it comes to cooking, handling money,shopping for food/clothes, running an household on a budget and taking care of their health.For some reason no-one taught them basic stuff! I think some of it could be taught at school.
A few years ago I taught a course called Fabulous Food on a Budget at a school during the evenings.Out of the 400 kids parents that were given a letter only 8 attended. Unfortunately most of these 8 were not poor, however I like to think they learnt alot. They told me they did.
I taught them techniques that I do everyday and I am not on the bread line!
I taught them to make a big pan of bolognese with minced beef and lots of finely chopped veg (to fill it out and add more fibre-plus kids don't notice they are eating veg) for a meal for tea then make the left overs into a lasagne for another nights tea. Instead of making a white sauce just for the lasagne double the recipe and make cauliflower & broccoli cheese then use the extra to go on the lasagne. It also helps with time management.
Some of the parents were shocked that I made them cut a joint of beef into 3 pieces for 3 different meals. Most said they would use it for one meal which is probably why the average family wastes £600 worth of food a year!
Unfortunately the poor tend to eat more take away rubbish and are more likely to be obese. This is despite the fact that they haven't got the £ to buy the takeaway and possibly have the time to cook proper food (if they are not working) but again this is down to education. They probably didn't take part in cooking lessons at school as their parents couldn't afford the ingredients-most will not admit it! There is a generation of people that cannot cook!
In addition poor people are more likely to smoke and therefore have worse health. Poor kids that grow into poor adults are less likely to get a good job simply because they don't believe they should..........because their expectations of theirself are very low. Poor kids get a raw deal. I wish I could teach them all to cook, at least!
Cooking helps people to learn so much more.

Welfare Reforms & Housing Benefit Cuts & Caps have little to do with saving money.

Worth noting that Housing Benefit goes to the landlord - NOT the tenant. And landlords set their rent prices.

Housing Benefit levels only REFLECT (NOT AFFECT) local rent prices.

It's extortionate, expensive, unaffordable and often obscene rent prices that have pushed Housing Benefit levels up.

Over £80M alone has been wasted in 2011 on assessments that proved unnecessary for disabled people.

DLA fraud rate is less than 0.5%, lowest fraud after pensions.

The cuts & caps will hurt severely disabled people and chidren the most. There are no exemption or exceptions in the welfare reform bill.

It is not right to punish and demonise the most vulnerable people, especially severely disabled people and children.

Look at this families experience -

Why punish severely disabled people and children?

If the safety net of the Welfare System is not there for them and the most needy, who is it supposed to be there for?


Its definitely true, one must support these children. And the right way to do it is not to give anything in cash (because who knows, their fathers or parents or they themselves might misuse the cash for something else!), but to provide them with basics - like good, healthy food and education. Would like to mention one the new year quotes by -Dr Rowan Williams - Archbishop of Canterbury from his 2012 speech - A good New Year's Resolution might be to think what you can do locally to support facilities for young people, to support opportunities for counselling and learning and enjoyment in a safe environment. And one must remember that it is the responsibility of every individual to see that the society progresses and improves - because poverty is the mother of crime, so whatever good we do for poor children, is in some ways doing good for ourselves also.

Poverty can have a profound impact on the child, their family, and the rest of society. It often sets in motion a deepening spiral of social exclusion, creating problems in education, employment, mental and physical health and social interaction. so it is very important to care poor kids.....Welfare society

Children are future of any country ,its must for every country that they have to be take care of there poor kids & think for them. Pls Visit