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Growing up Poor: Britain's Hidden Homeless Kids

Duration: 1 x 46'

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Narrated by Sheridan Smith OBE actress and singer and directed by BAFTA-winning director Jezza Neumann, this heartfelt film looks at children growing up and struggling with poverty, homelessness and overcrowding. 

Spending time with three boys, from the same school, the programmes explores how their families lives have been impacted by a perfect storm of reduced benefits and spiralling costs of living, leaving them as some of Britain’s most vulnerable children.

Kai, Qasim and Yaqub, attend the same school on the edge of Luton. During the pandemic the partial closure of the airport – the biggest source of jobs in the area – hit the town hard. Schools across Luton found families were struggling more than ever.

Kai shares an over-crowded two bedroom house with five others: his mum, step dad, sister and two brothers. 

Kai’s mother is bidding for a bigger council house but has been on the waiting list for eight years. Even though his mum has a full-time job as a care 
co-ordinator, after paying for housing, utilities, transport and debt repayments, Kai’s family are left with barely enough money to live. 
Kai’s family would struggle without the help they get from the school. 

The lack of sleep and constant worries over eviction have taken their toll on Qasim’s education too. 

Qasim lives in temporary accommodation with his three brothers, two sisters and their dad, Faahid. 

As a single dad of six children including twins not yet in school Faahid can’t go back to work, so they live on support. After bills, Qasim’s family are left with barely anything, the equivalent of two high street coffees, and for this they need to buy food, clothing and anything else they need.  

Qasim’s 13-year-old sister Naila isn’t only worried about the bills. The family were evicted from their last house with just a week’s notice from their private landlord. She’s haunted by the fear that the same could happen again.

While the end of the school year is welcomed by the kids, for their parents it means 6 weeks of no free school meals… for Kai, Qasim and Yaqub the Farley Junior Academy pastoral care team ensure they receive food and support over the summer holidays.

For Channel 4

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