Breadline Kids

Channel 4 Dispatches: Breadline Kids focuses on the lives of children whose families cannot afford to feed them.

The programme is shown through the eyes of the children themselves which definitely has an impact on the viewer. What’s upsetting is that the parents of two of the families actually work yet still have insufficient funds to provide food. One of the girls lives with her grandma as her mother is in hospital long term due to illness. This has meant that the grandmother has had to turn to a zero hours contract which means some weeks she can work up to 30 hours and other weeks there will be no work, this leads to an unsteady salary. What the grandma earns just about covers the cost of bills leaving very little money to feed the granddaughter.

The programme then shows what life is like for a single mother living in Hull with her two daughters. As with the other families shown, she struggles to provide food for her children. The youngest receives free school meals and attends a breakfast club. In order to provide for her family she takes drastic measures and becomes a prostitute leading to a more substantial earning. Even with her new job money is still tight leading to basic meals.

The family that created a lasting impression had a daughter suffering from Leukaemia. The dad had to quit his job as a gardener in order to look after his daughter and take her to her appointments at the hospital. With no income and limited benefits it was clear that the family were suffering. The son attended a breakfast club and received free school meals but the young boy spoke about going hungry at weekends and school holidays when the facilities were unavailable. The girl was at a time in her life where healthy, nutritious food would help speed up the recovery process yet with the lack of money, she, like the rest of her family had to go hungry.

It’s upsetting to see how children of such a young age have to worry about whether they will have any food to eat. In one of the richest countries in the world I find it shocking that people have to turn to food banks in order to survive.

I strongly recommend having a watch, the link is shown below:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches

Absolutely brilliant

I am a firm believer of children spending time outside especially during the school day when their brains are working hard to remember new facts and figures. This is however difficult, especially when outdoor space is inadequate. London is particularly overcrowded, and with more outdoor  playgrounds being taken over by housing developers, space is of the essence.

Asif Khan, a dad with children at a school in Tower Hamlets, London, recognised this problem. It was clear that the outdoor space at his children’s school was inadequate yet there was no way of expanding the area. Or so he first thought. Through careful planning he decided to create an elevate playground. The playground is still within the school boundaries yet is slightly lifted above the current playground creating more space to accommodate the children.

What makes this story more inspiring is the fact Khan asked for the children’s perspective. He asked what they wanted in their playground and he actually listened to them. They said how they wanted a quiet area, that was enclosed away from the hussle and bussle of the rest of the playground. He delivered. Asking for a child’s voice on something that will ultimately effect them is a nice way to go about things. Sadly, as we grow into adults we lose a little bit of our imagination and tend to see things in a more practical way. However, children view the world in a different way to us which allows for more creativity and expression. We need to listen to them more, for one day a child’s voice will change the world.

Below are some pictures of Khan’s elevated playground creation.

 

http://www.dezeen.com/2016/03/02/asif-khan-chisenhale-primary-school-tower-hamlets-london-elevated-wooden-play-area/

Money money money

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It’s often said that the best things in life come free. To some extent I agree with the statement but in reality we do need money in order to survive. Food in particular, is needed for survival.

Research has shown that providing free school meals to infant pupils in the UK education system has had astounding effects on their concentration levels as well as leading to a boost in their learning. However, for many of these children, their free school lunch is the only hot meal they receive each day. Children require a substantial amount of food in order to provide them with the energy they need to grow and develop, although having a free hot meal at school during term time helps them, this service is unable during the school holidays.

The numbers attending food banks increased by 21% over the current Easter holidays in London alone. An outstanding number. This shows how many rely on the free meals service. It is evident that more needs to be done in order to provide a free meal holiday scheme for children whose families simply can’t afford to feed them.

Furthermore, I feel the Government needs to focus more on providing fruit, vegetables and healthy foods at a discounted rate for those on a low income. Fast food is cheap, meaning it’s accessible to those with little money. However, this has led to a growing obesity problem across the world, particularly in Western countries such as America and the UK. Due to the pressures the media places on children, body dissatisfaction, eating disorders and poor mental health is also on the rise. If more free activity sessions were available to children as well as discounted healthy foods then these problems would gradually be eradicated.

I’ll leave you on a shocking statistic:

The number of people relying on food parcels has not been higher since the Second World War.

If this doesn’t make the Government think then I don’t know what will. Be thankful for what you have.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-35937343

 

 

The people next door

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The people next door is a one off documentary broadcast on Channel 4 (UK) about child abuse.

The documentary begins with a newly married happy couple moving into a semi-detached house after finding out that Gemma (the wife) is pregnant. Whilst all appears well at first, screaming is quickly heard from their next door neighbours house. The couple are slightly worried at first but just put it down to a one off argument. The next day they leave the front door open as they return home and a little boy runs into their house who appears slightly nervous and then quickly runs out and returns next door to the house where screaming was heard the previous night. As time progresses the screaming is heard again, along with banging, and the sounds of a child crying. Gemma becomes paranoid.

She orders a nanny teddy and gives it to the family next door in order to spy on their every move. Whilst the teddy captures some details the smallest boy of the family is not seen. The camera in the teddy bear also picks up on a closed door leading to the back bedroom of the house, the room which Gemma heard the crying coming from. She becomes more and more paranoid as the family are seen leaving the house yet the smallest, youngest child is not seen with them. As time progresses Richard (husband) begins to think Gemma is acting strange. After Gemma directly questions the family about the youngest son’s whereabouts, the story begins to add up. They state that he has been sent to the grandparents house for a while. Richard believes their words yet Gemma is still unsure.

To put Gemma’s mind at rest he steals a bin bag from next doors bin to check for anything suspicious. As the bin bag is unwrapped a blood covered white sheet is found. Richard states how it could be anything, perhaps he thinks one of the other children in the house had a nosebleed whilst sleeping. However, Gemma becomes more paranoid. She listens for any slight noise heard next door. One day she sees next doors daughter playing outside and decides to have a talk with her. Gemma asks the little girl who lives in her house. The little girl responds saying mummy, daddy along with her other siblings names and then finishes with the name Charlie. Gemma is shocked, the only possible person named Charlie could be the little boy she had seen previously. But, how could this be? Charlie was sent to his grandparents? Richard tries to calm Gemma and tells her that Charlie is the name of their cat.

As time progresses it is clear that Gemma is becoming more paranoid yet Richard is no longer fussed about the mysteries occurring next door. Until that is, crying is once again heard from the back bedroom. As the family have been seen leaving their house Gemma and Richard both decide to break in next door and see what the noise is. Just as they go to open the door of the back bedroom the family return. Darkness.

The next scene focuses on a new couple looking round Gemma and Richards house, the estate agent says the current owners are looking for a quick sale. I wonder why. As the new couple are seen leaving the house they see next doors little girl stroking her pet cat. They speak with her and ask her the cats name. Jasper she replies…

I strongly recommend watching the programme. It really opens up your eyes to the world of child abuse as well as the world of paranoia. I’d advise you to make up your own mind about whether Charlie was abused or whether Gemma was just being paranoid. Did Gemma’s motherly instincts lead her to suspect something wasn’t quite right?…

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-people-next-door

 

 

A round of applause for the ELC

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The Early Learning Centre was my favourite shop when I was younger. For those of you who aren’t aware, the ELC is a toy shop opened in the 1970’s based all over the UK. Their ethos is shown below.

Helping children be all they can be

At Early Learning Centre, we do all we can to help mums help children grow into happy, self-confident people.

We create fantastic toys – toys that help develop vital skills, toys that help children get off to the best possible start, and toys that are tremendous fun.

All our toys are designed to help children explore the boundaries of their imaginations and creativity , to make learning fun and help children be all they can be.

I have always been a fan of the shop and all that they do in promoting children’s play but this recent picture made me develop even more of an appreciation for the company. The caption that went along with the picture went as follows:

“Your little boy or girl will have so much fun with their Magical Mimi Hairdresser’s Belt”

The picture itself shows a young boy dressed in the typical boy colour of blue yet, he has the pink “Magical Mimi Hairdresser’s Belt” wrapped around his waist. I love the fact that ELC are so open about children being able to play with whatever toy suits them best, whether boys play with pink hairdressing toys or girls play with cars. Whatever the case, children should be able to play with toys that help them to express themselves. I feel that more companies should learn from ELC and advertise their toys to appeal to all audiences. If your son wants to be a builder then that’s ok, and if your son wants to wear a tutu and be a ballet dancer that’s ok too.

Well done ELC, you are the future!

 

http://www.elc.co.uk/

 

 

 

No excuses

There really are no excuses.

I am fully aware that the cost of raising a child is extortionate but there’s no need for financial instability to restrict your child’s development or the quality of parenting.

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This picture shows that with a little bit of imagination a cardboard box can be turned into a masterpiece.

A bit of paint, glue, paper, toilet roll tubes and toys that your children already have can be used to create something new and exciting.

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You can even add a personal touch which will truly brighten up your child’s day.

Of course, shop bought ‘kitchens’ are more sturdy, can light up and are generally a bit more child friendly but, crafting projects like the one above allow children to express themselves, it allows for them to tap into their imagination and be creative. Furthermore, a sense of pride and accomplishment will be felt at the end by both parent/guardian and child.

Switch off your TV, get messy and spend some quality time with your child!

 

http://www.boredpanda.com/diy-cardboard-kitchen-recycle-toddler/

The childhood race

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I’m not sure where this quote is from but, I think the wording is perfect.

It seems all too common nowadays that children are compared against one another from a very young age. The British education system is all about reaching targets, getting good grades and excelling in either Maths, Science or English. Children are made to feel like failures if they do not achieve highly. If they don’t read at the age of 4 then a wave of panic flashes through parents.

We must remember that each child is different. They are unique and special in their own way. Whilst some can count at the age of 2 others have outstanding social skills and good communication abilities. We shouldn’t compare children against each other,  or compare them against targets for that matter. Instead, children should be respected. Childhood after all is only a small window of time.

Museum of Childhood

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Yesterday I visited the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, London. I had never been before yet thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

It’s not the biggest museum but it’s certainly full of a never ending supply of toys, history and information. I’d also like to point out the attention to detail, on some of the blinds were quotes relating to childhood. Pictured below is my personal favourite stating “we don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing”.

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As a 20 year old, my childhood doesn’t seem that long ago so it was interesting for me to see what toys were like when my parents, grandparents and great grandparents were young. It was fascinating to see just how much has changed. The materials used to make toys as well as the actual toys themselves are so very different to what the children of today are playing with.

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Lego for example, is a toy that has been around for centuries. The contrast between new and old is insightful. The old box of lego was very basic allowing for children to express their imagination with the limited supplies they had, however, the new and ‘improved’ Lego box is comprised of many small pieces with an instruction manual describing exactly what to do with the Lego. Although I think that Lego is a brilliant company, I think more of an emphasis needs to be placed on children being able to build what they want with the bricks rather than following the instruction manual. Lego is a brilliant way for children’s imagination to run free.