Channel 4's 'Growing Up Poor' Was Painful For Viewers To Watch
Following the lives of several families, the programme reveals the heart-breaking struggles of today's working poor and the daily realities of living on the breadline.
In Cambridge, 8-year-old Courtney, younger brother NJ and mum Charlotte are filling hot water bottles to fight off the winter cold.
Christmas is coming and there is no money for heating, let alone presents. With £2.22 left on the metre, Courtney scrapes together shrapnel, hoping to nudge up the figure.
"We'll just sleep with our coats on," says mum Charlotte, matter-of-factly. The family fled domestic violence 7 months ago, and now delays in the Universal Credit System mean they have to wait over a month for their money.
Courtney has become a young carer for her mum, who struggles to cope. The family survive on £5 a day, relying on food banks to eat.
The stories told in Growing Up Poor feel Victorian, but this is Britain today, where more than 4 million children grow up in poverty.
Viewers took to social media to share their reactions to the programme. For many, it had been a painful and pertinent watch.
"I can't watch #GrowingUpPoor on #Dispatches this evening because it's just too harrowing for someone who has lived it," wrote one Twitter user. "I'd urge each and every one of you to watch it as a grim and gritty insight into the lives of children in an age of austerity. Children. 10pm, (now!) Ch4."
Another commented on the story of nine-year-old Rose and her family, living in Morecambe. When Rose's older sister Sarah was diagnosed with cancer, her mother stopped working to care for her.
Since Sarah's death, funeral costs have sent the family into crippling debt while they struggle to come to terms with their loss.
"#Dispatches Listening to a young girl talking about her sister who died of #cancer," tweeted the viewer. "Mother explains she had to give up work to #care for her child and funeral put her into debt can't stop crying these are the real stories I hear everyday #GrowingUpPoor rt."
Figures provided by Dispatches reveal that 2000 new food banks have been established in the UK in the past decade, while one out of 10 bereaved families have to borrow money to meet funeral costs.
The timely programme shines a light on the flaws in a system that lets so many fall through the gap - and gives a voice to those who suffer most.
Featured Image Credit: Channel 4