Boy’s heartbreaking poem says childhood poverty hasn’t changed since Victorian times

A heartbreaking video shows schoolchildren reading poems about the reality of facing Christmas in poverty.

One schoolboy, 10, said the situation is so bad for some children it’s as if ‘nothing has changed’ since the Victorian era.

The children wrote poems about the devastating impact of living with poverty, with one boy writing the line: ‘Nothing to eat, nowhere to dine, waiting for the end of Christmas time.’

According to a survey by the Childhood Trust, poverty for children is actually even more prevalent today than Victorian times when Charles Booth, a 19th Century social reformer recorded 35% of Londoners as living in poverty.

In 2018, the Trust found that had risen to 37% of children in London living in poverty – around 700,000 children.

One person who knows all too well the impact on children is George*, father to three boys aged eight, six and two and a teenage girl, 16.

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George has worked at the Houses of Parliament as an attendant for almost 20 years but when his wife started studying to become a health and social care worker, he became the sole breadwinner.

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When he applied for benefits, he says he was told his salary was too high to qualify, despite him being unable to afford his rent and bills.

He told Metro: ‘There’s no help available so you have to help yourself.

‘I’ve got four children, I’ve got rent to pay, I have to pay council tax and bills and on top of that you’ve got to find something to eat.

‘I found I just didn’t have enough. What the children needed – I couldn’t afford it.

‘I didn’t have enough money to let them go on class trips, at Christmas, I nearly cried.

‘I really want to do this for my children but I don’t have the money.’

George took out an expensive loan that eventually left him more than £10,000 in debt.

Last Christmas he couldn’t afford any presents for his children and they barely managed to eat. He is worried they face the same this year as well.

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He added: ‘I have been paying it off. It has been very hard, but I’ve only got a bit left to go.

‘It will change my life to not be in debt anymore. But I’ve had to do it all on my own. There was no help, nobody [in power] wanted to know.

‘Debt is not something people want to talk about. Not having enough money for your children, you don’t want to speak about it.

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‘So no-one really knows how many people are going through the same thing.’

A shocking new report yesterday revealed

Homeless charity Shelter found 183 children lose their homes every single day, with child homelessness at its highest rate in the UK since 2006.

The ‘Generation Homeless’ report is the first time the charity has been able to reveal the rate at which children are made homeless, as opposed to more general figures.

By Christmas Day, at least 135,000 children will be living in temporary accommodation, the charity said.

The Childhood Trust today launches its annual Big Give Christmas Challenge campaign, with the charity doubling all donations made to support disadvantaged children in London.

Child poverty rates have soared since 2010, with London suffering the biggest increase in child poverty among working families at 68%.

Chief Executive Laurence Guinness said: ‘It is appalling that in such a wealthy city so many children dread Christmas because of hunger, anxiety and feeling left out.

‘We are appealing to all Londoners to generously support their local children’s charity and to help us ensure that disadvantaged children in London will receive the support they need this Christmas and throughout the year.’

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Money raised through the Big Give Christmas Challenge campaign is spread equally between 77 children’s charities to support over 90,000 young people.

Visit to donate. The campaign ends at midday on 10 December.

*name has been changed.

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