True Vision

films that make a difference

Poor Kids

Poor Kids
Back to ‘Our Films’
59 minutes
Brian Woods
Jezza Neumann

October 25th 2012

Check out this great video about the work of Make Lunch, a great charity set up as a direct result of the film, that this summer had 13 Lunch Kitchens up and running, providing free meals for children during the school holidays who depend on free school meals in term time.

Brilliant, well done Rachel Warwick and everyone involved

March 29th 2012 - Save the Children publish a report on the role of documentary in affecting social policy, using Poor Kids as the case study.

Read the The Emotional Tipping Point here. Or download the pdf below

We've been contacted by many people wanting to help the families in the film.   There are many specialised charities in the UK working to tackle the issues causes by Child poverty and who can offer help and support to families in similar circumstances to those shown in the film. Details of a range of organisations can be found at the bottom of this page and also on the BBC Poor Kids website. Also, Save the Children has set up a specific fund here for families in similar situations.

Many boxes of clothing, toys, games and other essentials have been sent to our office, and are being passed on the families.  They are enormously grateful for the generosity of viewers, and have said that they hope that other families in need will also get similar help. If you want further information, email who can give you details.

We have worked with Save the Children to assess any offers of help to ensure that they are

  • appropriate

  • in the best interests of the families and children

  • to ensure the families are helped but not overwhelmed

    Websites and Blogs about the film
  • Mumsnet has been talking about the film here
  • The BBC TV Blog has broken its record for the number of comments here
  • SingleTrack blog discussion here
  • And for a right-wing take on the issue - "sentimental PC rhetoric" - have a look at Brendan O'Neil's blog in the Telegraph, here or the The Daily Mail take, here.

The Film

Courtney is 8, and growing up in poverty in Bradford. Her friend Holly is “loaded” cos she went on holiday last year.

Courtney & Holly

With an astonishing understanding of social mobility she tells Holly, “You're gonna be richer when you grow up, and I’ll be poorer.”

Holly suggests, “Social workers might pay for you or summat.”

Courtney replies, “Social workers'll be dead by ‘time I’m 21!”

3.5 million kids live in poverty in the UK. It’s one of the worst rates in the industrialised world and successive governments continue to struggle to bring it under control.

Poor Kids offers 4 children the chance to share their insights on life on the bottom rung of society’s ladder. In turn funny, tragic, moving and fascinating, Courtney (8), Paige (10, Sam (11) and his sister Kayleigh (16) take us into their lives and show us the unvarnished reality of growing up below the poverty line in Britain today. Breathtakingly honest and eloquent they give testament to how having no money affects their lives: lack of food, being bullied and having nowhere to play. The children might be indignant about their situation now, but this may not be enough to help them; their thoughts on the future are sobering.

Sam’s 16 year old sister Kayleigh puts it all into context, we learn how the effects of poverty led her to take extreme measures to try and escape it all.

Poor Kids is a startling insight into what life is like for Britain’s poorest children.



We meet 8 year old Courtney as she plays out in a derelict building with her younger sister Chantelle. They run over precarious half broken boards, and have fun throwing rubble into ahole in the floor.

Courtney’s unemployed single mum, doesn’t just struggle to provide things for them to play with, it’s difficult for her to put two meals on the table each day. In the summer holidays the kids often go hungry.

The family have never been on a holiday together, birthdays are almost impossible, as is buying new clothes. Courtney suffers from extensive eczema, which flares up when she is upset and stressed.

Heart breakingly frank, but never self pitying 8 year old Courtney is uncompromising about how she sees her future: 'I'm gonna find it hard, I don’t want to grow up.'


PAIGE, aged 10 - GLASGOW

10 year old Paige is popular and forthright, but she doesn’t like any of her friends to see whereshe lives. For most of her life it’s been in a damp infested flat in one of Glasgow’s tower blocks in the Gorbals. Despite recent regeneration, it’s still an area of drugs, alcohol and violence.

Black spores cover Paige’s bedroom wall and blinds, and flies buzz around the room. Paige is agitated and indignant about her living conditions, and has been compelled to cut out particularly mouldy sections in her blinds. It’s more than anyone else has done.

Kicking around what’s called a football pitch at the bottom of the tower block , where the ripped up flooring and broken glass has long ago prevented any ball games, Paige considers: ‘The housing association must be bad people to let you live in a place like this’.

We meet her friend Courtney whose whole family are constantly ill due to damp. Visiting her flat it’s not hard to see why. Every wall is covered in mould, and even Paige is shocked.



11 year old Sam wears his sisters hand me down uniform to school, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. Taunted, teased and downright bullied, Sam is never allowed to forget he’s growing up poor. By his own admission he’s been bullied all of his life.

Sam’s single Dad has 3 children to support and with just £420 a month, they often go short. They run out of electricity, can only buy things through a pay-to-view television saving scheme and skip lunches when they’re not at school.

Though isolated from other kids, Sam’s articulate and chatty, but often feels lonely. At quiet moments he reflects ‘I’d like to change everything in my life.. and if I had the chance to I would’.

Sam's 16 year old sister Kayleigh puts it all into context. She tells us that when you’re poor you’re 'marked', and there’s very little chance to escape it, which is what led her to try and take things into her own hands.


Many viewer have responded in highly creative ways to the problems the kids outline in the films.  For example, viewer Rachel Warwick has set up two pilot schemes to provide free lunches during the school holidays for children who are on free-school lunch during term time. If you'd like to know more about this project then there are two websites:- is aimed at children and families who have been invited to eat at one of the locations, giving information about the project and how to register is aimed at groups who are interested in running a similar scheme and, over time, will host all the material needed to make that possible

More facts!

You can download a special report from Save the Children, Telling it Like It Is, here, inwhich young people, including the children from Poor Kids, talk about their experiences of the living in poverty in the UK today.

And this is a fascinating report called "Just Coping" about the everyday lives and challenges of families who are coping with material hardship, and the ways in which they manage to survive.

"In an era where family life is given unprecedented levels of attention, and where parenting practice is closely scrutinised by a judgemental public, we highlight the social, cultural and environmental factors that combine to make life difficult for ‘just coping’ families."

You can download the report here.


The Facts of Child Poverty

  • Being poor costs families an extra £1,280 a year in higher fuel costs and interest payments compared to middle class families
  • Poor kids are 5 times less likely to have access to a safe outdoor play space than rich kids
  • Poor children are 2½ times more likely to suffer chronic illness
  • 47% of kids with asthma are from the poorest 10% of families
  • 85% of children living in damp flats suffer breathing problems
  • More than 50 young people attempt suicide every day
  • 1 in 6 poor children has considered suicide
  • Over one million homes in the UK are classified as “Unfit to live in”
  • Kids in the UK have the lowest chance of escaping poverty of 12 rich countries studied
  • 60% of families turn off the heating in winter to save money
  • Low income parents are twice as likely to split up
  • In November 2010 the UK came 18th out of 22 European countries ranked by UNICEF for child poverty.   Only Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Italy were lower
  • Child poverty under current policies is set to rise 11% in the next three years


See Producer, Brian Woods being interviewed with Save the Children Head of Policy for the UK, Sally Copley on BBC Breakfast here.

  • How to Help
    If you want to get involved with local charities that are active combatting child poverty in Bradford, then click here for more information on The Joshua Project and One in a Million.
    If you'd like to see what national charities are doing then there are some links below



    Latest News

    Courtney & Chantelle

  • Thanks to the British Horse Society and Throstle Nest Riding School in Bradford, Courtney has taken the first step to reaching her dream of becoming a lady jockey. Courtney and her family were treated to a private lesson.


    Courtney was a little nervous at first but before long had bonded with her horse JJ, after which there was no stopping her. Chantelle also loved the ride and even little Natasha had a smile on her face.


    September 2012: Thanks to the Principle Trust who "help children and families forget their worries and have a great time" by providing holidays for people who would not be able to afford them otherwise.

    Courtney and her family had a great week at one of the Trust's holiday homes at the seaside this summer. They thoroughly enjoyed their family holiday together.

    February 2014: Viewer's continued donations have helped Courtney and Chantelle's family pay essential bills such as electricity and gas and to buy clothes for the children.  Viewers have also sent the girls gift vouchers, toys and clothes which have been gratefully received.

    Sam & Kayleigh

    Thanks to the generosity of the viewers Sam now has plenty of school uniforms.  He and Kayleigh have also received other gifts to help them at school as well as household items for their new home.  The boxes and letters were taken down by Jezza Neumann who also took the kids out for the day.  They are both in very good spirits and looking forward to a brighter future.

    November 2011: Thanks to donations we were able to pay for a full gas tank for Sam, Kayleigh and their dad to keep them warm over an extremely cold winter.

    One of Sam's dreams to see a Chelsea football match was also made possible by a kind viewer donating tickets for Sam and his dad. Viewers' donations were used for return transportation to the match.

    In November 2011 the BBC invited Kayleigh and Sam to view part of the live filming of the Children in Need show where they saw performances from many celebrities including boy band sensation One Direction and the pre-record of the West End smash The Wizard of Oz.  They were given special access to the green room where they met Alesha Dixon and the children from Outnumbered (pictured below).

    Kayleigh & Sam meet Outnumbered cast

    Some words from Kayleigh about attending the CIN aftershow party.  "We then left the show to meet Jezza in the networking area where we stayed until our film was shown.  We received some wonderful goodies and saw some celebrities.  Then we were taken back to our hotel."


    February 2014: Sam, Kayleigh and their dad have moved to Wales along with their younger half-brother  who is now living with them.  Their father is working part time as a night porter which allows him to be able to work and still look after the children. Donations have helped pay bills and the clothes and toys that viewers have sent for the family have been hugely appreciated.

    Kayleigh is studying hard at college and donations pledged directly for her education have enabled her to carry on with her studies.

    The family are now able to afford an occasional treat and go out as a family on day trips to the beach and the cinema which they were not able to do in the past.

    Courtney and Paige in Glasgow

    February 2014: Donations for Courtney and Paige were sent to their families to help pay essential bills.  A viewer who wanted to help Paige directly with something she really needed has paid for a new bed and carpet for her bedroom, both of which she is delighted with.