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Poor Kids: A child's view of growing up in poverty

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Jezza Neumann Jezza Neumann | 10:20 UK time, Tuesday, 7 June 2011

When I was asked to shoot and direct a film about poverty, I knew the team and I would be taking on a massive challenge.

As a society, we have stigmatised poverty to a point where nobody likes to admit they're poor.

By making Poor Kids through the eyes of the children, we could uncover a tough subject through a section of society who rarely gets their say.

But this brings its own issues and complexities as a duty of care towards the children is paramount.

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Before we even set about finding children, we drew up an extensive protocol on how we would operate with the children's best interests in mind.

I guess the true test of how well we succeeded was when the children watched the film and whether they saw it as an accurate representation of their lives, and they seemed to.

All too often in life children aren't given a voice or the chance to be heard. And all too often adults listen, but they don't really. I'm a dad, so I know, as I'm just as guilty.

Once we'd settled on which children to follow, it was a fascinating journey.

The most important part of the filming process was to gain a bond with the children. After a while children often open up to us because we are a grown-up figure who listens but never judges.

On some days we'd turn up and they didn't feel like filming - they just wanted to go to the park, so to the park we went.

Patience is a virtue, as I keep telling my kids, even if you have driven all the way from London on a tight schedule to move the film forward and you are desperate to turn the camera on.

This patience, though, can pay back in dividends.

One of my favourite scenes in the film is Courtney and Holly chatting on the bed - a scene I could only capture because they were so used to me being around that I was able to blend into the purple wallpaper. I am short though, so that probably helped.

There are times when you do question what you see.

Why doesn't Kayleigh, for example, get a part-time job after college?

Firstly, as Sam clearly tells us in the film, jobs are scarce. Secondly, if her dad is off job hunting in the afternoon, who's looking after Sam and Kaleb when they get home from school?

Sam and Kayleigh from the documentary Poor Kids

Sam and Kayleigh

The answer, of course, is Kayleigh.

Why, for example, does Fran have a dog when she struggles to feed the kids?

"For my family's security," she said. "Do you know what it's like living on an estate alongside drug addicts?"

No, I don't, thank God.

The kids used to have bikes but they were taken from the garden. She also recounts a story about strangers breaking into the house.

That's why, as a single mum with three vulnerable young girls, she has a dog. I was then embarrassed I'd asked the question.

I believe so many of the children we met while making the film could go on to great things in life, if given the right chances.

The trouble is we are not only a product of our family but also society as a whole. So, in areas of the country where services are straining and infrastructure crumbling, these chances are forever decreasing.

It's really difficult for children to have a realistic expectation that they will amount to something when they are surrounded by headlines of job cuts and an estate full of the unemployed.

Kids aren't stupid remember - they get it.

At the end of the film, just like Peter Pan, Courtney says, "I don't want to grow up."

Sadly for her it's due to the fear of what's to come, not so she can stay forever young in a magical Neverland.

UPDATE: Thank you for the overwhelming response. Thanks for your comments, thoughts and generosity. The number of your comments has set a record on the TV blog. If you want to help, our advice would be to get in touch with any of the charities expert in dealing with the issues highlighted in the film, as listed on our programme page - Sam Anthony, executive of Poor Kids for the BBC.

UPDATE 2: There's further information for anyone wanting to donate on True Vision's website (the makers of Poor Kids).

Jezza Neumann is the director of Poor Kids.

Poor Kids is being repeated on Wednesday, 27 July at 9pm on BBC Three.

It was first shown on BBC One and BBC One HD at 10.35pm on Tuesday, 7 June.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


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  • Comment number 1.

    When i read the children's stories it made me cry.
    Poverty is invisible in this country,we have a clear divide between those who "have" and those who"have not",and this divide is widening.
    As a society we "look down" on poor people and i think we view them as, in some way responsible for their own livelihoods,the anger towards benefit claimants is increasing as is the anger towards non-white skinned individials,particularly if they appear to have more than those around them or are claiming benefits.As jobs become more scarce the anger which is underlying grows.
    I myself have been bringing up 2 children as a single-parent on a low income,i will have the same income as those families portrayed in the programme,however,i do not appear to be poor,and do not fit the stereotypical poverty stricken victim,and do everything i can to give the kids a great upbringing on a tight budget.
    Poverty is relative,my family is poorer than other families around us.I am good at stretching money,i do not smoke,or go out drinking.We cannot afford holidays,but we are lucky enough to live on a beautiful island,and we cycle and swim,go on picnics,and have free days out in the holidays.I have always worked up to 20hrs a week,but have been dependent on benefit subsidees.
    I do think families have choices,but get into a" poverty trap".If you are poor you have to think on your feet,put the kids first,give up smoking,learn how to cook good food on a budget,buy most things 2nd hand,use some initiative.With little opportunities it is easy to become depressed and adopt a negative approach to life,that is the biggest crime to the children of poor families.There is absolutely no reason for a child to go without dinner,and if this is happening the parent needs education.
    There is nothing stopping these families moving to a better place,moving to where the work prospects are better.

  • Comment number 2.

    Is there any way in which some of us could kind of "adopt" a family to help. I for one would be quite happy to do that sort of thing, help the adults to perhaps get a job, help with getting a better life for the children - days out, holiday a year etc.?

  • Comment number 3.

    This is so different to the world my lucky children live in - filled with things like ballet lessons, brownies and birthday parties - fuelled by my husband and I who both have jobs. I'd like to help these children more directly. I do give our outgrown clothes and toys to charity and also donate money to the NSPCC each month. What else can we do to get help to the children that need it - if the Government aren't going to pull their finger out? If there really are children who can't afford to eat in the summer holidays because they are not getting their normal free school lunch, we really have a problem. Thanks to the film producers for highlighting the extent of this problem.

  • Comment number 4.

    Contact the British Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org.uk/volunteerroles/?approachcode=81213_JuneEnews060611VolunRM%29 or any number of other charities to find out how you can help. More info available on the Poor Kids webpage: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b011vnls.

  • Comment number 5.

    sarah-jane post 1- I am with you. I too am 'poor'. I live a single parent on a large council estate in inner London. I work full time and do everything I can to give my child a good upbringing. We never go hungry, we do a wealth of entertaining and interesting things for free. I save and manage a weeks camping holiday a year and have every intention that my child will go to university. But also I see no end to my situation, I hate where I live and have no opportunity to move due to housing shortages, I will never earn enough to buy a home. I do feel blessed to live and been born in a country where none need starve or go without shelter. I also do look on in envy at those with houses or flats on leafy streets or people who have family to inherit money or property from. People judge you by where you live and now my child has started secondary school, they are now very aware of it.
    Yes there is poverty in this country, but poverty has changed. It's about the haves and the have nots more than ever.

  • Comment number 6.

    One problem with tackling poverty comes in the way it is measured. The somewhat arbitrary 'poverty line' of 60% of median income does not necessarily capture the whole picture. Poverty is much more, it can be argued, than income deficiency alone and there are many facets which should be considered. Further it is questionable how successful government policies are in tackling poverty. The incumbent government claims to have reduced the number of children living in poverty by half a million or so since 1998. However it is quite possible that poverty reduction policies have been aimed at getting people from just below the poverty line to just above it, therefore appearing to reduce poverty if we look at the figures but in reality not much has changed. We need to look at the plight of the poorest of the poor and their experience in terms of lack of opportunity - something which is not captured by this 'headcount' measure of income poverty that is so widely reported.

  • Comment number 7.

    I too want to help these kids so I just googled jezza neumann and found the company who he works for so will contact them, don't know if they can help at all but worth a try, i might try save the children as well as I sometimes donate to them. Feel I must do something after reading this blogg, just amazes me there are kids living like this today, i really must live in a bubble.

  • Comment number 8.

    Well i grew up with a poor up bringing as well

    Haveing to wear second hand cloths etc and yes i was bullied very badly at school.

    I remember have to look around house as a child for change just to get a bottle of milk.

    House was that cold in teh winter that the ice used to form on the inside of the window.

    This took place in the 80s over in the west Midlands.

    Even remember haveing to wear plimsoles as shoes as was poor.

    My Step dad and mom where on benefits.

    With my ounger brother and sister.

    Sadly i left home and went to work back in 1998 now i have a very well paid job and a family of my own who are spoilt lol

    But yes i escaped it all in the end.

    My mother is still on benefits with very little cash along with my younger brother

  • Comment number 9.

    When I was a teacher in a large school in South Bristol, there was one 11 year old girl in my tutor group who was always late. One day, on her return to school after one of her rare weeks off (on reflection I should have noticed that she was off for a week, never for the odd day, but there was always a letter), she said to me, "My Dad loves me really." By chance a social worker was talking to the Head of Year. I told her about this rather strange comment. She said that she would see what she could find out.

    The result. As I knew already, this girl walk across a mile of derelict ground to get to school. But every morning she took her 3 younger siblings to their Primary School - they were always on time in clean clothing. But it turned out that at home the girl would be given money every day to cook for and feed the family. If the meal wasn't ready when her parents wanted feeding she got beaten (explains the absences). The children all ended up in care.

    But my point is that this problem had remained hidden. The primary school (which had a good record at identifying children at risk) didn't notice any particular problem. When the girl was in my school she was hard working in lessons, showing none of the indicators we had been asked to look out for. She was skilled at covering up what was happening in her life.

    How do you find these children? They are all around us.

    I haven't seen the programme yet, but I think it should be shown at a better time to get a larger audience. After Eastenders perhaps.

  • Comment number 10.

    I notice that there's not much comment from the meanfaced nasties you usually get their kicks slagging off poor and low paid families and blaming them for their poverty. You know the type who ring up the Jeremy Vine show or such like demeaning out of work and young single mums saying they get too much benefit and so on. All judgement and disdain and so below the principalled people they have turned out to be. Usually Tory but Labour and LibDem get their whips out too.

    I loved your programme. I loved it that you got the views of these kids and showed them to be every bit as intelligent, inventive, creative and profound as those growing up in well off and rich families who think they have ownership to judge because they have to pay a proportion of their income in taxes to help others less fortunate the lives of which they know nothing about.

    I hope your programme makes a difference and brings home to the government that the people they so eagerly condemn and demean every chance they get, are human and every inch as good if not better than the children of those multimillionaires and billionaires who sit in cabinet and judge and begrudge them their measley benefits that barely keep them sustained and secure.

    Glad I watched it although it tore my heart out. I want it to make a difference and hope some of those from the wealthy wellbread wellschooled club who make up the present government watched it too, although I don't think there's much there where the heart, desensitised by class, tribal elitism and prejudice, should be.

    It's forecast that Coalition policies will force another 300,000 children into poverty.

    Good for you, a job worth doing I'd say.

  • Comment number 11.

    Reading this interview took me back to my own childhood and living in poverty. Like these kids, I often went hungry, had clothes and shoes that were too small and was under court supervision for many years due to my home conditions and it has to be said, lack of parental care. Eventually, I was taken into care where I remained until I was 18. The stigma of being poor never leaves, but I not ashamed of my experiences. It saddens me that some 25 years on, we haven't been able to abolish child poverty in this country. These kids desperately need a chance because god knows, they don't have much of one at this moment in time. I also agree with other people and would love to do something, even something as basic as buying Sam school clothes to fit. I've been there and it does make a difference. BBC - please take note of these comments and put us in touch with those who can allow us to do something positive and give alittle back to those in need. Its the very least we can do as compassionate people who do care. God bless these kids.

  • Comment number 12.

    Why is this desperately important programme on at such a stupid time?

  • Comment number 13.

    I was brought up in poverty. Whose fault was it? My father who smoked, drank and gambled too much. I am now a single parent and my child is 21. I did not squander any money I was given on smoking, drinking, recreational drugs, gambling, jewellry, getting my hair and nails done or make -up. I did not have multiple lovers. My child did not wear designer clothes and had to stand the taunts from those poor children who had designer clothes, tvs in their bedrooms, tvs the size of fireplaces in their lounge but lived on appalling estates whilst the money provided by the state paid for the parents smoking, nights out, car repairs, catalogue items, expensive toys, make-up. I went without and managed to buy a house and used aupairs to work to bring up my son. I did 2 jobs for more than 10 years and still do dur to the recession.The only way that you will stop child poverty is to stop giving the money to the parents but give them vouchers for the child to have clothing, free school meals, holidays, free travel. I got nothing from the CSA but my taxes paid for those married and single with more money and children that they could not afford to have more benefits than I could ever dream of.

  • Comment number 14.

    I grew up in a single parent family because my dad died while my mum was expecting me. My experience of growing up (in the 80s-90s - there must be a pattern emerging here considering the government) until my teens wasn't as good as other kids financally, but we always had food on the table and were able to go on holidays because of help from our extended family. We didn't always have what we wanted for birthdays and Christmas, and we were always running out of 50p pieces for the electricity and had one of those coin operated TVs which kept running out of money and sometimes had to accept hand-me downs of clothes, toys etc from family and friends, but that was about as bad as it got. Sadly my mother also passed away when I was 14 and things got worse after that. It's horrible that some of the kids in the program have to go without food during the holidays and at weekends and I can understand that because I experienced the same thing while I was at college. I think it's pathetic that things have gone backwards for children in poor families since the 80's not forwards and are worse off than I was. People are always slamming poor people because they think that they are lazy but sometimes it's more of a matter of circumstance like deaths in the family rather than people getting themselves into that situation. What people need to remember is that it's the kids that really suffer and my childhood would have been a lot worse without the support of my extended family. I do have one question though - why aren't these families featured in the program helped out by their extended families? Poverty is bad and is made far worse when folks can't rely on their families to help support them, even if it's just with childcare during the school holidays. Is this family breakdown to blame for the current plight of these children? Maybe. The government's current cuts and slashing of services in local councils don't help either. I am currently graduating from University and I can only hope that the same oppertunity is presented to these children when they are older because they deserve it.

  • Comment number 15.

    These families are supposedly on £1,000 a month AFTER housing costs.. thats not poverty!.. these families have an attitude problem and a budgeting problem. I have the same budget, though I have to pay all my own housing costs.. but my bills are paid, my family well fed... and I live in a large house, in deepest Norfolk , so spend more on transport, but I can afford to have this probably because I avoid spending a fortune down at the pub, or going out to do the luxury things I KNOW I cannot afford... it sickened me that these families were regarded as being in poverty.. I had to switch over.

  • Comment number 16.

    I partially grew up in poverty as my father became chronically ill when I was 10. I was lucky in that I knew what it was like before he became ill and that motivated me, and because I went to a grammar school. A good education - and my parents' belief that education was vitally important - got me to university and a decent job. My brother wasn't so lucky: he and his wife are both currently working, in manual jobs on shifts. However, while they don't earn a lot they and their children are definitely better off than the poor people in this programme.

    I cried when I saw that poor little's girl's eczema - I have never seen such a severe case and I am sure that the conditions those children are living in absolutely must be responsible for exacerbating the condition. I was also in tears when Kayleigh talked about having tried to kill herself. I can't tell you how much I feel for all of those poor kids.

  • Comment number 17.

    Dafny above commented that she would like to "adopt" a family which I am sure a lot of people would agree to do. I am horrified to think that these children live in such conditions while our Government sends millions abroad to "poor" countries like India. Hopefully this can be used as a tool to redirect some of that money where it is deserved in this country. Thank you for highlighting this - warts and all - it must have been so very hard to make - I am tears listening to how matter of fact the children are about their circumstances. Situations like this MUST change

  • Comment number 18.

    This is truly heartbreaking. Nobody should have to live like this in this country of so much wealth. But i guess where theres wealth theres unbelievable greed. Who on earth really needs millions in the bank when there are fellow human beings with so little. A sick society!

  • Comment number 19.

    Excellent documentary Jezza. I'd like to buy Sam a new school uniform. How can I do this?

  • Comment number 20.

    Dear Jezza
    I want to help Sam and the children on your documentary by making an anonomous donation of uniform and clothes etc... how can i do this?
    Kindest Regards

  • Comment number 21.

    It's very sad to watch - I want to help. How do people go about giving directly to these families featured. BBC can you help?

  • Comment number 22.

    I completely agree with the others who have commented on the time slot given to this film. It should be peak time viewing. This is a wake up call for me. I like to think I have some idea of what is going on around us all, I have taught in inner London state schools after all- but hearing these kids is shocking to the core. The contrast between the lives of these kids and my two young children is almost unbearable.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm 18, and I've been fortunate to grow up in a wealthy family. After watching tonights programme, it's made me think twice about the things I have.

    What really annoys me is that some of these families are genuinely poor, and are not wasting money on drugs and drink...yet we can spend £10bn on the olympics in 2012. It's so typical how we win the games for 2012, then bam..recession hits and the government has to spend on staging the olympics when there are families who can just about scrape enough money together to eat. To be quite honest, no matter how bad this may sound to many of you, these games are just a disaster. Firstly, there was no real spending stategy..in 2006 the games were estimated to cost between £5bn and £20bn...hardly an "estimate". Secondly, poorer income families don't even have a chance of watching them live, simply because they cannot afford to buy tickets, and the chance of even getting tickets is tiny, as we've all seen. Thirdly, for all the excitement about the games, its suddenly turned into a horrible experience as people who thought they could go and see events, just can't.

    My view is, the bid for the olympics should not have happened considering there were several hints back in 2005 that a recession was lingering around the corner. Instead, for a more economically developed country, more government money should have been spent on means tested benefits (in many categories), such that families that really do need the money to live, get it. Being an MEDC holds the duty that people should receive a good standard of living, if it means a higher distribution of income then so be it! Poorer children should not be discounted, they are the generations to follow and should be given the chance to make something of themselves, instead of being held up in family finances and poor health and living standards.

    If there was a way to adopt a poor family like somebody mentioned previously, then it would be morally right to help those who are less fortunate especially if you can afford to.

  • Comment number 24.

    It brought tears to my eyes watching this program I cant believe little kids have to live in those digusting conditions. I mean come why are they living in a house full of damp and mould isnt it the councils right to come out and fixed the problem, dont they know its prone to health problems. And i wernt to happy about the kids playing in the abandoned house, how dangerous is that?, that house should of been boreded up if no one was living there so no little children could get access It was in a very bad condition holes were in the floors, what if they fell. Its shocking Ive got 3 kids myself, and I'm a single mother I dont work at the moment because im studying and i do find it a stuggle but i get by. I just hope sumthing can be done really watching this just broke my heart. kids are not stupid either and the ones in these programs were very intellegent. I just hope this dosent affect them wen they are older and they still have aspirations to do sumthing with their life.

  • Comment number 25.

    I am 39 and have just found out I lived in poverty. Until now I assumed I had a happy childhood but I am sure Jezza would have portrayed the sadness and desperation of my early years. Very strange.

  • Comment number 26.

    Shame on every politican who has let this happen ,this is not sum grim dickens story but britian in the 21st century .My question is why no mp has raised the question of giving poor familys fuel allowence in winter ,my parents who both have very good personl pensions and live in a very big house get a fuel allownce why ,there should be food stamps why is this not being done

  • Comment number 27.

    i am a single parent and i have managed to bring up my child with everything that he needs and more. we live in a clean house and live a normal life so if i can do it i cant understand how other people cannot. sometimes this poverty word comes from the way children are treated. lets face it if can heat the house, feed, clothe, buy my child things that other "normal children" have then i cannot understand why other people struggle so much, maybe they should work out the priorities of what the money should be spent on instead because i cant say its easy but believe me it is very possible. neither of us look like your sterotype single mother with scruffy kid!

  • Comment number 28.

    very moving, thank you. What amazing children.

  • Comment number 29.

    can't stop crying. hope all those bleeping bankers, politicians (of all colours), celebs, media tarts n all the professional (r& rich) grumblers about their "comfortable" (ie stinking rich) lives choke on their bleeping claret. those kids had more eloquence, intelligence, honesty and bravery than the whole of Westminster village, the square mile, and celeb-land put together. John Bull & Wat Tyler - where are u now? watching Sky tv no doubt.

  • Comment number 30.

    made me angry, we as a society allow this to happen, and it is only going to get worse, so sad. i hope the powers that be watch this, and have a heart to do something about it.

  • Comment number 31.

    Student nurse from Liverpool. This programme made me cry. It makes me realise why I want to be a nurse to help these poor marginalised people. I can't believe the conditions some of our children have to live in. Why is the Cammeron squad cutting money to families in need and yet they can somehow find the money for Royal weddings and wars?

  • Comment number 32.

    Is there anyway I can get clothes to Sams family?? I have 2 suitcases of decent clothes Kayleigh can have, was going to take them to a charity shop..but she can have them! Sam, I'll buy him a whole new uniform, I have a TV they can have, a DVD player, so they can get rid of those awful payback things, my son has a PS2 he doesn't use anymore....I would much rather these things go to people who genuinely need them! I'll even drive and deliver them!

  • Comment number 33.

    just so sad got me so upset

  • Comment number 34.

    i think however good we do in other countries we should start with ours first it is a society of have and have nots and i cannot understand how it is going to change we give to so many others but cannot look after our own its one of the most expensive countries to live in and its only getting worse so as far as i am concerned this country is a total disgrace and watch the rich get richer and the poor get poorer lets see in 10 years will it change absolutley no chance enjoy watching the program David Cameron and Nick Clegg

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    Brought tears in to my eyes that these children are living in appalling conditions. Can't stand when people compare their lives to others. Everyone situation and cost of living is different. Those block of flats need to be knocked down!

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    Well done on a great piece of televsion.
    It's good to see a programme maker poking the conscience of the nation, rather than pandering to nasty stereptypes like some other programmes do when it depicts people in poverty.
    It was honest, informative and refreshing. And all the more moving because it showed what it's like to be poor child in Britain. Those participating were very brave, as being poor attracts stigma and blame from the 'usual suspects'.

  • Comment number 39.

    This programme made me cry, and made me realise how luck I am.
    I used to live in poverty as a small child.
    Would it be possible for me to contact Sam and his family? I want to help out in any way that I can.
    I would love to be able to send them a letter of support.

  • Comment number 40.

    I would like to help in some way to make these poor kids lives better in some way.How can I do this ? I'm up for providing holidays, weekend activities, sponsorship, helping the patents to gain work , money whatever .
    Please let me know if this is poss Thanks

  • Comment number 41.

    An outstanding and humbling programme, made all the better (and more poignant) for having chosen bright, eloquent children bursting with potential - who know their potential will probably never be realised.

  • Comment number 42.

    i live in Glasgow and poverty here is really bad! i am one of the lucky ones who lives in a good area. i just wish i could adopt these kids :( bbc should up a way to donate money to the children!!

  • Comment number 43.

    this programme moved me so much - and I had also watched an earlier programme on Afghanistan which was tough to watch - but seeing kids living in such desperate conditions was tough to sit through but I felt I owed it to these amazing kids to watch till the end. I agree with the comment that it would be nice to sponsor a family in a small way - I have always wanted to be able to donate my son's family allowance to a more needing family, why is there not this option? I was sorry to read the comment from FarmerJ but everyone is of course entitled to their opinion. This was an excellent programme on a moving subject and I hope I do not forget this programme in a hurry and I will be seeing if there is anything I can do, even in a small way - donating clothes, toys and other household items (what we would see as basics and what some families would clearly see as luxuries) that I sometimes throw away could I am sure find a good home. Thank you for making this programme - I have no doubt that some of these families will experience harder times to come in this climate whilst some of us are fortunate that the impact of higher food and fuel costs probably means just a few less real luxuries! Heart-wrenching stuff!

  • Comment number 44.

    I related to everything in this film, from experience, is it possible to do food parcels or something to help? Or send clothes? We are not rich family but I am sure We can help with a uniform or two or help with some food sent directly via mail or something or deliver a collection? some food is better then an empty fridge and when I was a kid I experienced that alot. Just one question though, why was this show shown so late on Telly when the main people who should be seeing it are in bed?. Sad but fantastic story and definitely motivated me to reign in on our spending and do even more to pass it forward. Will definitely be showin this story to our children to show it's not only children in africa that are in poverty or struggling, it could just be one of their friends oneday and they might just be able to help their friend in case they're in trouble.. Prefer to send directly then send to charity companies tbh..

  • Comment number 45.

    At the helm of the country we have two former-Etonians, is it any wonder there is such poverty. How could they possibly understand the problem enough to support change?

  • Comment number 46.

    Wonderful programme. Very hard to watch. Fantastic children who could do so much. They all deserve a chance. I want to help Sam and his family. Awful to see the him being teased and bullied about his clothes. Can't help everybody. Can we help them?

  • Comment number 47.

    I would also like to get a donation, to these children does anybody know how
    To do this, this a real eye opener.

  • Comment number 48.

    What a truly amazing programme, is a real shame to see families struggle like this and there is no need. To hear the childrens voice makes a real difference on how the 'poor' are viewed. Now if someone wants to set up a charity to help these familes out i'll be first in the queue to donate something a month to help people in this situation.. As for the companies setting deposit limits for the television to fund the rent of a fridge, cooker, washing machine etc... you should all be ashamed. sign me up now.

  • Comment number 49.

    I am extremely angry watching this program as I always am with children from under developed countries. I do not see the point because we know that these children exist have always existed and anybody who claims not to know need to have their heads examined. Now that you've exposed these children to the world, what are you going to do about it? To me this is exposing these children to the rich children. The programme is also re-emphasizing that happiness is having material things more than a warm loving family who are there for you. I am very pleased that they are very well balanced articulate children. So far poverty doesn't seem to have affected them its society that is discriminating against them. This is one of the fruits of capitalism. All those who have benefited and are still benefiting from it whould be rejoicing.

  • Comment number 50.

    This brought tears to my eyes, i just wanted to go help these families, this could be anyone of us!One of the wee girls was so cold in her house her jaw was jittering! Omg how can the government let this happen in this country in this day and age i dont know.........i will be thinking of this documentary for some time to come..........

  • Comment number 51.

    this is terrible what is happening we all need to help them

  • Comment number 52.

    There is a network of foodbanks set up around the country run by churches which are aiming to give some alleviation to poverty through the provision of a balanced 3 day nutritional food parcel. We started ours in late January as a collaboration fo 7 Coventry churches with the Bishop of Coventry as patron which has fed nearly 1,000 people in four months.

    As an example of big society this shows how the community at large can rise up - whether its supermarkets, businesses, schools, churches, and engage the problem of poverty. It continues to amaze me that the generosity of some many people in Coventry has helped in a small way families in desperate need to get by.

    Coventry Central Foodbank [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 53.

    this documentary is so moving, id like to know how to help families like this, we send parcels abroad for operation christmas child every year and would like to do something in my own country to help poor children who really need it. we shouldnt have children living in poverty like this in our day and age, we need to get together and stamp it out but the government must also do something about it, id like to know if the PM watched this and how he feels about it. surely something needs to be done asap, we dont have much ourselves but would like to know if we can help in any way.

  • Comment number 54.

    Brilliant documentary, well done. Th children were so eloquent and understanding. But why did the BBC put this on so late in the evening? It should be compulsory viewing for MPs and those in local government.

  • Comment number 55.

    Such a well made documentary and really touching.Glad it was focussed on the children and their perspective, making it all the more relevant.Lost childhood for some, the children appeared far older and wiser than their years. A primetime slot should have been given!

  • Comment number 56.

    Can I say how sincerely moved I have been by the programme, and my husband and I did ask the questions about the dog and part time job too - this highlights for me how sanitised we are to some of the real difficult issues that are around. Your programme has reminded of how lucky I am and what I have and has inspired me to make sure I give something back, whether through mentoring young children, volunteering, after all we are one society and we have to bring back a sense of community within the UK, as the Government is not introducing policies that will enable that to happen. Each of us can make a difference.

    Also these sorts of programmes should be scheduled earlier, to raise the profile and perhaps shown in schools to help young people understand the issues. Thank you once again, the programme was very powerful and true.

  • Comment number 57.

    is there any way of getting some new uniform to that lovely young lad with the ripped trousers i would so love to be able to pass some on so he doesnt get teased anymore for having a girls shirt too and has the right size trousers as it really moved me to tears ..

  • Comment number 58.

    amazing to see the bbc in sumation never mentioned the 15 billion foreign aid policy - your bias gives you 0 credability and mocks the poor people in this video. It has to be said evolution and natural selection are is being performed in the social underclass, not what one would imagine, its the rich and well off who are not having kids, its the poor who are, evolution in reverse or dare i say - devolution!! the object of any biological organism is to reproduce, said social group have enough water and energy and time to perform their biological obligations, so who is actually worse off? With 7 billion people on the planet dare the bbc mention birth control?

  • Comment number 59.

    cmon BEEB get your priorities straight. junk the primetime trash n put this on at an hour that more people INCLUDING THE BLEEPING KIDS WHO WERE IN IT can watch - other kids of more fortunate circumstances might be inspired to do something about it as our generation has obviously failed them. together with the Adam Curtis thesis which exposed our pathetic apathy and unwillignness to DO something abu the wold an v good 24 hrs in Beeb-land. just change the times please n repeat at 8pm. no excuses.

  • Comment number 60.

    I request that David Cameron sees this if he already hasn't. in this day an age people have lost there way. children are the future and always will be. i myself have taken my life for granted and the the luxuries i have. this documentary has made my very sad and now i have inconsolable rage towards are government for not alerting the public to the enormity poverty is in this country i never though it was this bad, surely they've known but have thought once again about person gains and wealth.

  • Comment number 61.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 62.

    jezza I was really impressed with kids especially Sam!! I sponsor a number of kids and would like to get in touch, please can you provide me with a contact within your office

  • Comment number 63.

    I wonder if the millionaire politician who claims that we should be proud of Britain giving £billions away in foreign aid was watching this......? Also the politicians (and rich do-gooding liberals) who think it's OK to accept immigrants in to this country, & I'm not talking about the doctors & other high earners (high tax payers), no the ones who require social housing, benefits & the like - diverting money away from the poor kids featured in this show (and taking the jobs that Sam's dad in Leicester is applying for).

  • Comment number 64.

    I find it disgusting that i am a british soldier, and after fighting in all sorts of third world countries to make them better for the population, come home to see this kind of poverty at home splattered over the tv. Why is our government continuing to send OUR money abroad and bailing out countries that have overspent on their fat cat Bureaucrats’ within the euro zone which WE opted out of? Also outsourcing council services to overseas! Lets just lower the flag, bend over and disolve the UK like the so called elected government (of the people!) have dictated!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    I was deeply saddened by the devastating effects of poverty. This issue is effectivly stealing a child's innocence as they become familiar with issues they should not yet be aware of; ie debt. What can we do to help make a difference?

    I am extremely greatful for everything I have and acknowlege that at times people like myself may take luxuries like swimming/holidays/technology for granted but these children have nothing.

    I cannot imagine what Christmas is like for the majority of these children, is there no scheme available in the UK where people can donate food/gifts/school uniform etc and offer their good gestures. People WOULD want to help, I know many people have been effected by this simply by observing my facebook newfeed this evening....

    I was very dissapointed that following the interesting documentary there was NO follow up in relation to charities or further information. Being someone who has worked with similar children in the past I feel the BBC should have given the viewing public the opportunity to help the youngsters that are being made to grow up before their time.

    If anyone has information on charities or organisations such as this I would like to hear from you via email: [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 66.

    What remarkable young people. It was refreshing to hear their perspectives from their own voices. I found it utterly heartbreaking that some of those very young people had almost given up on life already and had resigned themselves to a life of poverty. The maturity of those young people was astonishing. They are dealing with issues that they shouldn't have to. Their childhood has been robbed from them and through no fault of their parents who are doing the very best they can. It is totally disgusting that the UK is ranked so high in terms of child poverty. How can any politician watch that and not think that something has to be done to protect these children.

  • Comment number 67.

    i was so moved by this program i just cant believe that in this day and age people have to live like that

    and its only going to get worse

  • Comment number 68.

    There is no way anyone should have to live like this. What bright kids. I hope someone sees that in them and gives them the chance they deserve.

  • Comment number 69.

    I run a martial arts academy in leicester, after just watching the program i have a message to the family from leicester- A message to the family on britans poorest families from leicester, Dad- i will offer you a job, kids i will train you for free and personally sponsor your training! Martial arts is the greatest gift you can give to your children, study, work smart, train hard, play harder :) Anyone know them? tell them to personally call me on [Personal details removed by Moderator] option 2 “where you are from doesnt have to dictate where you are going”, i grew up on a council estate, martial arts gave me a positive pathway to excel and succeed, i now run one of leicestershires leading family martial arts centres, its good to give back, the offer is there to the family, i also know a network of full time professional martial arts centres in the uk who would be happy to offer simular to disadvantage children in there areas, im sure although small this would make big differences in our communities. www.martialartswigston.info

  • Comment number 70.

    I would like to help one of the families, how can I do this?

  • Comment number 71.

    At the helm of the country we have two former-Etonians, is it any wonder there is such poverty. How could they possibly understand the problem enough to support change? And shame on you BBC, this should be on when more people can see it and lean on the Government to make change! Shame indeed.

  • Comment number 72.

    Watching this documentary was very moving. Looking at the children’s point of view gave a wholly different perspective on the problem. It can be easy and perhaps one can even be forgiven for being sceptical of parents complaining about how financially hard it is for them but when the children vocalise the problems it really hits home.

    I would be grateful if anyone from the programme team could let me know whether there is an way that I could assist the family. I do not just mean finically but also as a mentor role, for example to Sam.

  • Comment number 73.

    Really excellent film - is there any way I can help Sam get some new trousers?

  • Comment number 74.

    It`s shameful that this is 2011 and people are still living like this - Then you have the BBC advertising the Duke at 90 straight after the show...Going from the poor to the outdated rich gentry. You will probably not list this comment. The Prime Minister says were "All in this together" dont make me laugh try telling that to the families on £500 a MONTH.

  • Comment number 75.

    have to admit that was a documentary that made me open my eyes even if it was with tears in, how can a country like ours not be there for those children and families, yet we can help iceland and portugal with their financial problems. I really really hope that certain members of parliament watched this documentary and do something about it and do something about it quick, dont take my hard earned wages in taxes then dismiss it use my taxes to help my country and those poor children that are our future................ I am annoyed that as a country those poor children have been let down. That poor girl who said that she doesnt think she be alive at 21, what on earth have we done. Please if a member of parliament is reading this or watched the program please with all my heart please lets help these families

  • Comment number 76.

    I am ashamed to live in supposedly the fifth most affluent country in the world and hear that we have over 3 million children in poverty, even if there is an argument about how to define poverty. That eloquent children such as those in the programme should be worried about how they are going to eat is a disgrace.

    Child poverty should be a governmental priority and yet the last time I heard a Prime Minister mention it as such was over ten years ago. These children are not only potentially a lost generation they are at risk of going into a life of crime, teenage pregnancy and continuation of the cycle unless we live up to our responsibilities as an affluent country. I for one would sponsor a underprivileged family after watching the programme.

  • Comment number 77.

    I know how hard it can be to make ends meet and the guilt you feel seeing your kids going without. Felt so sad when they talked about missing meals ,Christmas, gas/electric.
    And today as gas prices are said to rise 19.Maybe those fat cat bosses should watch this.
    What lovely, well mannered children though.A credit to their families.

  • Comment number 78.

    An outstanding and humbling programme, made all the better (and more poignant) for having chosen bright, eloquent children bursting with potential - who know their potential will probably never be realised.

  • Comment number 79.

    I live in Glasgow in rented accomodation and am a single father with three primary school children. I have been very well off financially in my life but now due to a really rough marriage break up I find myself in a living hell. The programme will, I hope, show people how our young children react to this terrible situation. Children should not have to be so wise about poverty and accepting of the conditions they have to live in, we are robbing them of their innocence and dignity. Many more peolpe will find themselves in this situation over the next few years due to the economics of the world. Today's annoucement on gas and electric price rises will hasten the desperate situation of many poorer people, whilst the bankers and other wealthy people will just get on with their lives as if nothing has changed. Please someone help our children, the future of our country, before it is too late.

  • Comment number 80.

    This was such an excellent documentary. So sad to hear their individual circumstances and yet heart-warming to see that in the face of such adversity, these children were positive, articulate, making the most of life and at the same time were able to demonstrate an acute awareness of their circumstances.

  • Comment number 81.

    It is unbelievable in the UK today that kids still have to live like this.
    Why are the government not doing more to help these kids instead of spending billions in other countries.

  • Comment number 82.

    Is there anyway we can help these families directly? I have so many things I could donate, clothes....a uniform for Sam....I even have TV, DVD, PS2 no longer used...they can have them all, I'll even deliver them, rather than take them to the charity shop like I was going to...

  • Comment number 83.

    Too me that was not a shocking film, why because i live around it all the time and all my life, often labeled as benefit scrougers and cheats. Poverty isnt just a simple scene of poorness it is a genration thing and as the filmed pointed out if you live init your chances of getting out are very slim, and at the same time this goverment said poverty would be eraticated by 2020, well the truth is it just wont. Until goverment and people recognised the problems faced out there rather than just say they are work shy and benefit cheats.

  • Comment number 84.

    So glad i watched this it really touched me.What world are we leaving when we have people walking around with £1000 hand bags and there are children out there who are not eating. I never ever believed that this could and would be allowed to to happen in England. Things need to change this can not go on!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 85.

    Its the same as when I was a kid in the 70's. Damp council house, £2 for christmas present, endless mantra "we dont have any money" screeched by my mother. No swimming, no going on holiday, one cheap school uniform to last the year and then yelled at and excluded at school for not having the correct uniform when it falls apart.
    Not nice for the children...but the damp. My parents put me, the chronic asthmatic of the family, in the dampest room with black walls. Granted the house was damp, but regular washing with bleach does help. It was never done. The windows were never opened. The bedding was hardly every washed. But my parents had a choice, they didnt work, they took the nice room opposite the sitting room south facing with the coal fire in between. They didnt bother to hoover, or clean.

    Housing should be better, but parents have a lot to answer for. If you are going to have children while you are poor then you should at least give up drinking and smoking. I know this kind of comment results in people saying its not fair to say that poor people cant have children. But its the children we should be thinking about, not the poor people who have them.
    Once you have the children, you should at least be prepared to regularly clean, and give up your luxuries for the children. Where I grew up the child benefit was spent on luxuries for the parents.

  • Comment number 86.

    Whatching this programme brought back an old sence of home for me as I was brought up in very similar circumstances, I would love to offer a donation to the children shown and would be grateful if you could publish the information on procedures I'm doin so. Hear the childrens stories and giving them a louder voice was refreshing to see, I hope it will open others eyes to the direct issues in our local community and promote a greater understanding of the struggle others face daily.

  • Comment number 87.

    If poor kids don't send a message to our government about poverty at home and stop sending money to other countries! Charity starts at home.

  • Comment number 88.

    I think it is a real tragedy that this very moving documentary was scheduled in such a late slot. The amazing job Jezza did with these vunerable children deserved a much wider audoence. I for one was moved to tears about the state of child poverty in the UK. I could not believe children are living in thse conditions in the UK today and I guess having my own children made it all the more poignent!. Something needs to be done to elevate these children's standard of life and the UK's standing on chikd poverty in Europe which was an even more shocking statistic.

  • Comment number 89.

    Great programme, I moved from those high rise flats in the Gorbals over 20years ago after livng there for 16years and they were damp and mouldy then but I have to say I only have happy memories, yes there was poverty,drugs,drink & violence but for some reason I do not remember the bad bits. I really feel for the kids in this programme but everybody I grew up with had their problems and no money but thank god most of them were determined to do better and did.

  • Comment number 90.

    The most telling part of the programme was when the statistics for child poverty were flashed up on the brick wall at the end of the programme.

    After 13 years of a labour government that poured money into 'eradicating' child poverty, the UK is right at the bottom of the league tables.

    Relying on the Government to come up with solutions for the poor has never worked
    and will never work.

    The real reasons for poverty - poor education, broken families and an unwillingness to look for work in those areas of the UK that have work - continue unchanged and this is why poverty remains a serious problem in the UK.

    Poverty is also a relative term. My African, Indian and Philipino friends are speechless when I show them our classification of 'poverty'.

  • Comment number 91.

    Oh my!! FarmerJ, everybody is entitled to their own opinion but you must have been watching a different channel. Anyway lets not waste time on your comment. Please let us know where we can send clothes etc would love to help. Im in Leicestershire

  • Comment number 92.

    Just watched this program, and i'm shocked. I know speaking from experience growing up in the 80s was tough for a poor household, but this is 2011... come on, this should not be going on in this country.

    Only today the bbc have announced that household fuel bills are set to rise (yet again), only rendering the situation worse for poorer families. Housing benefit is to be lowered if the coalition gets its way.

    And yet we're happy to blow millions, if not billions of tax payers dollars on telling the rest of the world how they should live.


  • Comment number 93.

    I have just finished watching this programme. It was disturbing to the point of nightmare for a relatively comfortable retired person … how it is for those young children defeats me.

    !8th out of 24 of the worlds richest countries. And we have just come out of a period of 13 years of a Labour government.

    I don't want to hear platitudes when I see things like this, Every single MP who has sat in Parliament over this period should be put to work on behalf of these unfortunates … along with the banking community.

    We should be ashamed.

  • Comment number 94.

    Mr Cameron

    Why, when our country in deep in debt and we have extreme poverty in our country, are we one of the largest contributors to foreign aid. Please watch this program and have the 'guts' to reply. But you won't even bother to look on this blog.

  • Comment number 95.

    This one of the most emotional documentries i have watched. Children should not have to live like this in this day and age. All the children in the film were so lovely and thier parents should be so proud of them. Other children including my own do not realise how lucky they are and how they should appreciate every small thing that may not seem like a lot. Iam going to make my children watch this tomorrow so see and realise how other children do have to live and how hard it is for parents to get jobs and get money.

  • Comment number 96.

    What a brilliant programme. Shocking, to the point, clear, moving, educating. Thank you.

  • Comment number 97.

    it really made me angry when seeing these families having to go through what they had to go through, the gap between the mega rich and the everyday person on the street is widening day by day,unfortunately we are all just one unpaid debt (listening bankers!!) away from real hardship and poverty. this country either willfully or through factors unbeknown to us is going to hell in a handcart

  • Comment number 98.

    after watching this program it has made me mad and upset,that there are families living like this,the goverment shud be ashamed the money lenders shud be ashamed of such high interest rates,we have children in need and red nose day.isnt it time for a big celeb to come forward and have a help our own night on tv to raise money and help our own out first come on lets get something started.........

  • Comment number 99.

    I related to everything in this film, from experience, is it possible to do food parcels or something to help? Or send clothes? We are not rich family but I am sure We can help with a uniform or two or help with some food sent directly via mail or something or deliver a collection? some food is better then an empty fridge and when I was a kid I experienced that alot. Just one question though, why was this show shown so late on Telly when the main people who should be seeing it are in bed?. Sad but fantastic story and definitely motivated me to reign in on our spending and do even more to pass it forward. Will definitely be showin this story to our children to show it's not only children in africa that are in poverty or struggling, it could just be one of their friends oneday and they might just be able to help their friend in case they're in trouble.. Prefer to send directly then send to charity companies tbh..

  • Comment number 100.

    A really moving and well written programme. So often children do not get the opportunity to say how they feel but your programme really gave them that chance. The children who were filmed were a real inspiration to other children living in similar situations. As an adult I struggle to understand how in this day and age with supposed equal opportunities or apparent human rights that these children and so many others like them have to live in such appalling conditions. It is about time the government did something to sort out this growing issue and stopped wasting money on pointless policies! Thank you for highlighting a problem that I'm sure so many people would turn a blind eye to.


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