Child Poverty: North West parents feel like they have 'failed' as they struggle to feed their children

Families living in food poverty say they feel like they have "failed as a parent" when they are unable to feed their children.

Charities are calling on the Government to introduce a National Poverty Strategy to help reduce the number of children living in destitution - saying without support the situation will 'spiral out of control'.

In 2001, the then Labour Government pledged to eradicate child poverty by 2020, but 20 years later, predictions claim more than five million children will be living in deprivation by the end of 2021.

Four of the areas with the highest number of children living in poverty are found in the North West.

ITV Granada Reports has spoken to two families living in poverty, who have told us what life entails for them.


'ROSIE'

Rosie - not her real name - is a single mum to two daughters, she was widowed at a young age and, despite working full time, her children are living in poverty.

She was not entitled to a council property and instead was forced to rent privately.

The mother claims Universal Credit, but says the top-up payments have never been correct.

Her identity has been hidden as her friends and family do not know how hard things can be.

Speaking about what poverty is like, she says: "Hunger. Not having something as simple as toothpaste, going to school in old shoes with holes in, sometimes a uniform that they've reused for three years because there is no money.

"Just small simple things like no milk, but you haven't got that pound to go and buy that milk, there's no cereal in the cupboard or no bread, it's really difficult."

Rosie says one of her daughters has "always wanted" to take a packed lunch to school, instead of eating free school meals, but Rosie says her situation means she is not in a position to provide "something as simple as a packed lunch".

Speaking of the effect on her daughters, she adds: "Sometimes the kids don't show it but you know, and you know your own kids and it does affect them.

"As a mum I'm meant to lead by example, how can I lead by example when things get so difficult?"

Rosie says she has some weeks where food is not an issue.

But, she adds: "But then there are times when the girls get sent home from school because somebody in the support bubble has tested positive that means I can't go to work, Universal Credit mess up with the top-up payment and then rent being so high you've got your other bills to catch up on, and then before you know it things just spiral.

"Before you know if you haven't got breakfast."

Rosie says she chose to speak out because of the stigma around Universal Credit.

She adds: "People think that because you're on Universal Credit, that you just sit at home all day, that you don't do anything, that you're just a mum who goes out every weekend gets her eyebrows down, her nails done, and we're actually not, some of us do get up every morning, we take the kids to school and we go to work, we earn a living, but then what?

"I want people to know, it doesn't matter whether you're working, or you're on Universal Credit or you're claiming any other benefit, the struggle is real. Don't be embarrassed."


ROB SINGER

Rob Singer was left unable to work after an accident left him with neurological difficulties, something which changed his circumstances "overnight".

The dad was forced to live off his savings, sell his home and car, MORE INFO NEEDED

Rob says the biggest impact was on his son, who was in Year 6 at the time.

He says: "Suddenly all his friends were gone, you're in a different area, new school it's just new everything. It's very, very difficult.

"He had to grow up faster than he was supposed to and I can't ever forgive myself for that."

Rob describes life in poverty as "humiliating and degrading", and says he feels he has to justify his need, and plan out everything in advance to make what little money he has work.

Rob and his family have been supported by the charity Turn2Us who offer grants and financial advice to people in need. He urged people to apply for any benefit they might be eligible for.


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