Wear walking the poverty breadline

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CHARITY begins at home. And now Save the Children, best known for helping some of the world’s poorest families, for the first time ever has launched an appeal to help poor children in this country.

To think we have third-world poverty in our country, the seventh richest in the world.

What a condemnation where mothers are going hungry to feed their kids, fearful of losing the roof over their head and swallowing their pride for food handouts.

Four new foodbanks are now opening every week, twice as many as six months ago. More than a quarter of children in the North East are living in poverty, says the charity.

So many are in such dire straits. And to such a shocking degree that, as Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Childrem knows: “Poverty is tearing families apart, with parents buckling under the pressure of mounting bills and children seeing their parents argue more about money,”

It is truly appalling that even working parents are now floundering because they can’t earn enough to pay their way. Here in Sunderland as elsewhere, more families are being plunged over the precipice into crisis.

As the Salvation Army so recently highlighted, the fear of poverty today is just like it was 100 years ago for our forebears, that they will not have enough cash for food, clothes and a roof over their heads.

Over at the Salvation Army’s Austen House family centre in Southwick, they are at the sharp end, seeing people they wouldn’t normally expect to be in crisis. “More people are slipping into the poverty trap,” Graham Wharton, project manager at the centre tells me.

He adds: “They are really struggling and trying to make ends meet and are looking at what kind of support they can get.”

So much so, in less than 12 months they are making up twice as many food parcels, as well as bundles of clothing and small pieces of furniture.

Yet there’s an inbred pride that stops many more from asking for help because they see that as an admission of failure as a mam or a dad.

It’s truly shocking that people who would never have dreamt they would be in this position are struggling to stay afloat, keep pace with rising food costs and all other bills.

That’s why some didn’t have the money to kit their kids out for school uniforms this week and quietly turned to charity.

The Salvation Army has been helping the poverty-stricken since 1865. We might well ask how far we have come since then. Yes, the poor will always be with us. But what defines poverty today?

Save the Children says any family having an income of less than £17,000 a year. It estimates that 3.5million children are living in poverty in the UK and a steep rise is predicted in coming years.

We can all see that coming. And already the charity is seeing the poorest children here in this country, bearing the brunt of the recession, with some missing out on regular hot meals or new shoes.

It’s rich that its report, It Shouldn’t Happen Here, shows the extent to how badly off the working are, quoting last month’s Department for Works and Pensions figures which showed 61 per cent of children in poverty had working parents.

The campaign urges the Government to focus on benefits for low-paid families and ask employers to pay a living wage.

The Government said it was committed to eradicating child poverty. Meanwhile, Save the Children aims to raise £500,000 from the charity appeal to help boost low income children’s school careers and provide basic essentials such as cookers, furniture or toys for their families.

This report underlines the disturbing snapshot of the Salvation Army’s poll that showed one in 10 adults said they were worried that they would be unable to provide three square meals for themselves or their family every day.

Given that 17 per cent of working adults with children under 16 who work full or part-time, polled by the Salvation Army, worried that they may not be able to put any meal on the table, it all begs the question how many homes on Wearside are consumed with anxiety, both the working and jobless, to such a degree that they are on the cliff edge of poverty?

The daily fear of affording the very basics of life is wearing and dangerous. And that’s enough to push plenty over the edge. It grinds people down.

So many more have found to their bitter cost how redundancy or a change in benefits can tip their world into poverty. And if that’s you, do get in touch.

Any offers of food or donations will be most gratefully received by the Salvation Army at Southwick. Call Graham on 5618272.

Fake beauty is on dangerous ground

AT 20 months old, parading in her “Tweet” chicken swimsuit, Holly Young from Sunderland was one of the youngest to take part in Miss Glitz Sparkle 2012.

Still a baby, she looked barely able to stand on her own two feet, never mind being weighed down with eye-watering eyeshadow and a fluffy tail.

What was her mother Christine Greenhouse, 28, a city dance teacher, thinking of?

As a storm of protest engulfed the US-style beauty pageant for girls up to 12, over the worrying sexualisation of little girls, some wearing make-up, spray tan, hair extensions and lip glosss – Holly’s mother had no qualms about putting her daughter in such a sickening competition.

She said: “A few people had told me to enter her in competitions because she is pretty and confident.

“I wasn’t sure at first, but I entered her in an online competition and she won it.

“I did a few more and she kept winning so we went to a live pageant.

“She won that too and has done five since then and won something every time.

“She’s got eyeshadow on today because the other girls had it on and she wanted it.

“I have to hide my lipstick because she always wants to put it on. She actually thinks she’s a princess because she has that many crowns at home.”

Christine, 28, who also has a son Ewan, nine, has said she wouldn’t take Holly to the events if she didn’t enjoy them.

Well, she hasn’t known any other. At just 17 months and barely out of nappies, she was already a veteran of the pageant scene. Unbelievably, from five months old, Holly’s mother was entering her in pageants.

Sullying the innocence of childhood is shameful.

Watching young girls primped and preened and pictured in provocative poses is positively wrong.

It has nothing to do with showing how beautiful your child is as in the Echo Bonny Babies competition and everything about how irresponsible mothers are so pushy for their children to expose them to this disgusting, dolling up.

Time and again they defend their actions with how much it boosts their girls’ confidence and how much they love it and want to be part of the show.

Some are too young to even know what they want. Although Holly’s mother has said: “She’s very headstrong and knows what she wants.”

Presumably taking after her mother. Maybe, the girls do enjoy the dressing up and painting of their faces with makeup. But that’s a world away from playing dressing up at home and clip, clopping around in your mam’s high heels and trying on her lippy.

This is dangerous ground. Remember Jonbenet Ramsey, the American child beauty queen, who at six was murdered in her home in Colorado in 1996, a crime that remains unsolved to this day.

Worryingly the girls entering these copy-cat pageants here are getting ever younger, pouting and parading in swimsuits.

It’s not what they should be doing. It’s disturbing to see and instills a wrong set of values in impressionable children that beauty is all – a fact as fake as the muck on their faces.

Makes a meal of service at store’s cafe

I WAS shocked to see the disgusting state of Sunderland’s BHS restaurant the other day with some 20 tables piled high with the disgusting debris of other people’s dinners.

When I asked to see a manager, a woman told me someone had rang in sick and they had no-one to clear the leftovers and crockery. That made me feel sick.

Surely the store should have a strategy in place for such emergencies I told her. Only there isn’t one or wasn’t the day I called.

I wonder how many walked out or perhaps like me, had paid before turning to see the scene.

I found just one clear table facing into the store so I didn’t have to look at the remnants of chips and lasagne and dirty dishes. But after I complained, I did see three members of staff deployed to clear the tables.

However, there was only 15 minutes to go before the cafe closed, so what had lain there for what looked like hours had to be cleaned away.

I bet they wouldn’t get away with this in Durham or Newcastle. Why such second-rate service in Sunderland?

And why did the manager not use her managerial skills to convey to this confounded customer how sorry she was.

Saying sorry goes a long way. Pity she never did.

Mike’s labour pains for wife

“THANK heavens Amanda will be the only one giving birth” said dad-to-be Mike Dowdall, as he proudly pushed his belly out in support of his revelation that he’s a victim of Couvade syndrome.

That’s a rare phantom pregnancy to you and me.

Mike’s symptoms drove him to his doc and now after bouts of morning sickness, he claims he has a swollen belly, hot flushes, exhaustation, water retention and food cravings.

The 25-year-old tattooist, whose girlfriend says makes a very wimpy mother-to-be, could experience contraction pains.

To which Amanda, 25, said: “I’d love to see that because I don’t think there’s a man in the world who truly understands how painful labour is.”

And if men were having to give birth, they’d only ever have one apiece. This is this couple’s first child and if Mike feels any of the pain of labour, I’d bet my bottom dollar, it will be their last.

Magic mushrooms

WE all know that kids reckon money grows on trees, but some know so little about fruit and veg that they believe broccoli grows there too.

A small-scale study by children’s food writer Fiona Faulkner also found one child thought beetroot a posionous plant.

It’s not that long since a survey showed that one-in-four kids under the age of 16 thinks that bacon comes from sheep.

Food for thought...

The Axe: The Colling hit list

LET the axe fall on this ridiculous no-flowers policy operating at Sunderland Royal where a friend was banned from bringing a bunch of flowers into her dying relation on a geriatric ward, for fear of infection.

No such link has yet been proven that flowers on a ward are dangerous.

This wasn’t intensive care, but a side ward. And why this rule for those who would be cheered at the sight of a vase of flowers?

Maybe whoever brought this rule in reckons the staff have enough to do without changing flower water ...

The hospital response is this: “There is no overall policy that relations should not bring flowers on to wards, but specific areas where patients may be immuno-compromised or, for instance, with serious chest conditions, may have their own preferences – it is up to the individual wards concerned.

“In care of the elderly some wards are risk assessed as to the suitability and safety of cut flowers in vases, because of allergies and the risks of confused patients with unstable gaits.

Do you agree with Linda? Write to Echo Features, Echo House, Pennywell, Sunderland or email linda.colling@northeast-press.co.uk