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Growing Up Poor: Britain's Breadline Kids

Duration: 1 x 52'

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Three articulate and engaging kids tell their own stories and wryly observe the impact poverty and homelessness is having on their families, including the toll it is taking on their parents’ mental health.

Warm, funny at times, but above all moving, this film looks at the realities of life on the breadline through the eyes of three amazing children.

We follow three children whose families’ were doing OK before austerity, but have now unexpectedly slipped into becoming a statistic. 

Amid the gowned scholars of Cambridge, Courtney and her family struggle to stay afloat.  Fleeing from violence they became trapped in a vicious circle of poverty, made worse by delays in Universal Credit payments. Despite all this, Courtney remains optimistic and resilient – relishing the chance to choose treats at her local foodbank, looking forward to getting her phone back from the pawnbroker, and encouraging her mum to get a boyfriend so she and her little brother “can have a dad.”

But as the biting north winds sweep across the fens in winter, even Courtney’s sunny outlook is challenged when there is not enough money left on the meter to boil a kettle for a hot water bottle.  Shivering, she starts counting the pennies in her piggy bank.  When her mum tells her the family has been turned down for an emergency fuel bank top-up, Courtney says simply, “That’s crazy, what do they expect us to do?”

In rural Suffolk, 15-year-old Danielle’s life was turned upside down following a breakdown in her parents’ relationship and subsequent loss of their jobs.  They had to move out of the family home into temporary accommodation, and she now has to live and study in a cramped temporary one room bedsit.  With her GCSEs coming up, Danielle is struggling to cope with her anxiety in her family’s current situation.

And in the idyllic coastal town of Morecambe Bay, 10-year-old Rose’s family is part of the growing number of working poor.  Only able to work 16 hours a week, Rose’s mum struggles to keep her head above water and despite her job, the family was forced into debt when they had to cover the funeral costs of Rose’s older sister, who died of cancer.  As a result of the expenses around her death, they are now part of the New Poor who are having to do things they never before considered, like using a local food club that distributes food waste to families in their community.

What the Press Say:

Broadcast - “The most articulate film about poverty I’ve ever seen”

Anoosh Chakelian - "The documentary feels like a landmark moment in mainstream social affairs reporting, and not just for its unusual online reach ahead of the programme airing. It avoids all the pitfalls of the genre that’s come to be known as 'poverty porn'."

True Vision for Channel 4

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