films that make a difference
Kate Blewett and Brian Woods, the team that made The Dying Rooms, have filmed children around Britain, to hear from them what it is like to be poor, how they live their lives from day to day, and what it is like to live without hope for the future. Their plea in Eyes of a Child is that someone will do something to change their lives.
Children born into poverty, many into unemployed and broken families, are instantly disadvantaged. Living in run-down areas they quickly become socially excluded, and a high percentage will be excluded from school, too. Uneducated, bored and often miserable it is not uncommon for them to turn to crime. It’s often for kicks, but for many it becomes a way of life.
In Bradford, Leicester, Sheffield, Bristol and Portsmouth, children talk with disarming honesty and amazing insight about their plight. Many are troubled and troublesome. A family of twelve live together in grandmother’s three-bedroomed council house - 8-year old twins Kayley and Becky don’t go to school, they stay up watching cartoons and get up at mid-day. In another household, five children of school age are at home watching television on a normal school day. David is 11 - he has been expelled from school nineteen times. Anney is also 11 - he too is excluded from school, his parents are addicted to heroin. Joelene is fifteen - she has violent tendencies and likes "to fight until I see blood." Matthew is 10, expelled from school for stealing. He misses his mum and brother who are in prison on drugs charges. Marcus is thirteen and has spent four months in a secure unit for stabbing a friend. A Bradford grandmother says: "I’ve lived in council housing for 40-odd years, but I’ve never had to go through this before."
Tony Blair delivered the annual Beveridge lecture in March that year, stating that the government’s aim was to lift 700,000 children out of poverty by the next election. His voice punctuates the bleak portrait of children in poverty painted in Eyes of A Child.