Leeds tops ‘children in crisis’ league of shame

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CHILDREN in Leeds are suffering “phenomenal” disadvantages, with the proportion of families in crisis seeking help from one charity higher than anywhere else in Yorkshire.

Charity Buttle UK has handed out 2,695 emergency grants to vulnerable families and young people in Leeds over the last ten years, with a further 903 grants made in Wakefield.

In Yorkshire as a whole, more than 11,310 grants were made.

Leeds received the third highest number of grants per local authority in the country, and when based on population size, received the highest proportion of grants per household in the region, with 3.1 applications per 100 households.

The analysis, by Professor Les Mayhew from London’s Cass Business School, examined all grants made by the charity from 2006 to 2015 and combined it with Government data on deprivation.

He found that more than six out of every 100 families in Yorkshire had applied for a grant from Buttle UK, with more than a third, 37 per cent, seeking help with rehousing or establishing their homes. Some 35 per cent lacked basic provisions.

The report said the “principal driver” of family crisis in the region is due to parental problems, including parental physical or mental health problems, or a family’s “inability to cope” with issues such as poverty, divorce or imprisonment. The principal driver of child crisis however is estrangement; these children can be homeless or NEET.

The charity’s chief executive, Gerri McAndrew, said: “The choices families are making because they don’t have enough money are as simple as ‘do I buy food for my child or do I keep the loan sharks from the door?’

“We are providing lifelines for these families and their children, who might be getting bullied at school because they have dirty clothes due to not having a washing machine at home, or missing out on friendships because they don’t want to invite anyone round to their house because they don’t have a bed to sit on.

“Thirty five per cent of the families in the area coming to us are lacking basic things that we all take for granted.”

Most of those in Yorkshire in need of help have a family income of between £6,000 and £10,000 a year.

The majority of applicants are referred to the charity through local authorities, health and social care organisations or other charities, such as domestic abuse services.

The majority of applications, 61 per cent, come from lone parent families.

Ms McAndrew added: “We know there have been phenomenal cuts in provision across the UK and there will be fewer agencies referring people to us. The lack of support networks for families in need is increasing the potential for hidden poverty.”

Among those receiving help were a single mother from Leeds who was also caring for her two nephews and “struggling to make ends meet”, who was given a grant for a cooker when hers became dangerous to use.

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