Posted: 08 May 2014

'The fear of poverty and debt is in my DNA'

As a boy the actor Brian Cox saw and felt the painful effects of debt and poverty on his family. He shares his experience in a video interview. Following the video, he writes about his upbringing and why he supports The Debt Trap, our new campaign to stop debt's damaging effects on children.

Learn more about The Debt Trap.

Brian's interview

Our Chief Executiive, Matthew Reed, recently spoke to Brian Cox about his experience growing up in debt and poverty, and why he supports stop The Debt Trap.

'It's unbelievable that problem debt is still on our own doorsteps'

The fear of poverty and debt is in my DNA. My great grandfather was in and out of the poorhouse and descended into mental illness after his wife died and he lost five of his eight children to childhood diseases. He was declared insane and died in an asylum.

My mother Molly tried to 'check out' a number of times after my father died when I was eight, leaving us in debt with only £10 in the bank. I found her with her head in the gas oven as the harsh reality of debt and poverty took a grip. Thursday nights would see me down at the chip shop when the money ran out, getting the left over bits of batter to take home for our tea. 

That’s why I’m backing the launch of The Debt Trap, published by The Children’s Society and StepChange. It’s unbelievable that problem debt is still on our own doorsteps and shameful that families are relying on food banks and payday loans to feed and clothe their children. We're not talking about debt to buy flat screen TVs but food, energy and clothing for your kids at school.

Diseases we thought we had eradicated like rickets are coming back. We can cure rickets with Vitamin D, but you can’t erase the scars of poverty which run deep like a psychological disease. The fear of poverty and debt is one of my greatest motivators, it’s such a terrible stigma, you cannot underestimate the impact. It’s like a mark, a scar that’s always with you. Believe me, I know.

What you can do

Help stop debt's devastating effects on children - get involved in The Debt Trap

By Matt Summers-Sparks - Digital team

Plain text

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.