One child in three is living below the poverty line in parts of Kingston. As part of a new series of features David Lindsell spoke to parents about poverty and how the council intends to tackle it.
Stand by for the sob stories:
A father on his sick bed wept as he told me how his wife and two daughters had been helped by the Food Bank since he fell ill.
Ahhh, right on cue!
The man, who asked for his family not to be identified, ran out of money when he was hospitalised after coming to Britain to make a life for himself.
His girls ran around the sparsely-decorated house playing in a cardboard box as their mother told me about the bureaucracy they had faced to get any benefits they were entitled to, leaving them with no food.
So, which god-forsaken Third World hellhole did they hail from?
The family came to the UK from Portugal and spoke broken English through an interpreter…
Ah. Right. So he wanted to ‘make a new life for himself’ in a country, but not to the extent of learning the language?
So…how did he expect to manage at work?
Paul Pickhaver, who delivered a few boxes of cans, fresh food and cereals to their home about 10 minutes from New Malden town centre, said: “There’s a real frustration about how long it takes for benefit entitlement to be determined– six to eight weeks.“For more than a month there will be no income.
“Social Services think the family can live on £80 a week. You could get food for that but you can’t cook if you don’t have any electricity or live if you can’t heat the house.
“This is a particular stark situation because they are getting no benefits at all but we have had another four families call this week whose benefits have been stopped.”
Are they all from Portugal too?