Almost daily diary!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Poverty

An interesting day here in Suburbia. I have been on a very interesting course. I have met some interesting people and had some interesting conversations, (in case you didn't realise I love communicating with people!!)

However, one conversation will stay with me for sometime:

At lunch I was talking to a teacher who works in Wales. He works at a school for children aged 4 to 11. This is a school with a difference though. The children here have been excluded from all other schools in Wales. If they fail to stay at this school, their next stop will be a high security unit. They are damaged children. Damaged by life, parents and society. They are children of the 'Underclass'. You don't hear that word much these days but this is the word he used. There is one school in Britain of this sort and one in Wales. They are both full.

He has 5 children in his class and is supported by 2 other adults. Five is the limit. The children are abusive and violent most of the time. It is the only way that they know how to behave. They spit in their teachers face most days and he has bruises from their attacks. Would you do that job?

The children come to school every day. They are bused in from miles around. No one forces them to come. Most of them have no one in their lives who care whether they go to school or not. They come to school because it is the only constant in their lives. The only time that anyone cares about them, their only form of routine, somewhere that provides the safe boundaries that they need.

None of them have fathers that are constantly present. The parents are often drug addicts or in prison. When they get off the bus after school they live mostly on the streets until the next day. No one cares for them. No one, that is, except the staff at their school. No matter what they're faced with, the teachers care and look after these children. Trying to put something back into their lives. Trying to keep them out of prison.

The teacher I spoke to told me they have a role of ex pupils names on the wall in the staff room. It is updated regularly. The majority end up in prison for serious crimes, not just burglary but murder and worse (if there is worse). The school can only do so much. Once the children leave the little security they have there and move on, they become more disturbed. They follow the path of their parents and their parents parents. This is the society in which we live.

I have nothing but admiration for the man I met today. He was calm and had a wonderfully pleasant face. He talked from the heart and did the job because he cared.

There are children on our streets tonight who have their futures planned ahead of them, their whole lives mapped out. There are children out there tonight that won't have a bedtime story, who won't have a kiss goodnight, who may never know the comfort of a happy home.

It was blog action day for poverty yesterday, I wasn't sure I could take part or whether I had anything to blog about, but today is different. It's not that I didn't know this sort of poverty was there but perhaps I chose not to watch. Because it is poverty. Not just material poverty but a spiritually poverty, a poverty of care, a poverty of life chances, a poverty of hope. Not just their hope but ours, the hope that we can protect children and provide a life that is good enough. Our poverty and theirs, together. What can we do?

22 comments:

scargosun said...

It's one of those things that is always there and then one day *pow* it is right in your face. I think that many people today forget about looking inside yourself for that depth of spirit and therefore don't teach it to their children. I think too many people rely on outside infuences to take care of that in their kids, thus making them shallow. At the core of each person there is a spirit, if you can reach a child before that spirit is corrupted, you are a hero.

Maggie May said...

That is terrible. I feel sorry that the kids have been born into this environment that makes them losers from the start & sorry for the teachers who are being abused and for the fact that there is so little hope after spending all that time, effort & money into trying to help these kids & the very poor success rate in the end.
I think there must be some better way for these kids to get the help that is needed.I also think that they need to be boarders and have need to be taken right off the streets & they need help after they have finished their schooling with some kind of secure, half way home.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

well written and thoughtful and provoking post...I feel so helpless.......

Suburbia said...

FFF, yes...helpless, that's how I feel too.

cheshire wife said...

This may sound a bit heartless but it sounds to me from reading your post that at one time these children would have been in an orphanage. Do orphanages still exist and if not why not? That would be better for them than living on the street.

Suburbia said...

C Wife, as far as I know, I think orphans have no parents alive. These children have parents who are alive and have places to live with their children, but they chose to neglect both their childrens mental and physical needs.The children may prefer to live wild than go home in some cases.

jenny smith said...

You don't realise what you take for granted. JS xxx

Rose said...

A powerfully written post, Suburbia. In the U.S., we call these children "throwaways" because no one cares about them. With the lack of love and examples of morals, these children are bound to end up in prison or on the streets. It is indeed a sad situation, but I think they need to be found and helped at a very early age. Unfortunately, by the time they're teeanagers it's often too late for many of them. No, I wouldn't tackle the job this Welsh teacher has; people like him are saints!

david mcmahon said...

Thank you for this thought-provoking post.

Eclectica told me I simply had to read this.

Mean Mom said...

I wonder why these children haven't been taken into care? The teachers are obviously aware that they aren't being properly cared for. How tragic that these children will never experience the love and caring, which our own children take for granted.

Molly said...

So sad that people can so badly neglect the most basic needs of the children they've brought into the world.........Almost makes you think there should be some suitability test you should have to take before being allowed to give birth!!I agree with the commenter who said it would work better if they could be boarders. There might be a better chance that they could aspire to a better life than that their parents have chosen......

What a co-incidence that you should have found me! The first thing that popped out at me when I came here was that you live in Bristol---my middle son lives there! What are the chances??

mr ryce said...

damm i like what your saying... but wtf is networking??? lol im young but i dont spend that much time online lol... i just want people to hear what i have to say and understand that there are other real people that understand the world and let everyone know that there is an outlet to say the real shit everyone else is afriad to say.... its just the truth and your own opinion i want everyone to feel like they can still give your opinion no matter whats happening

Millennium Housewife said...

What a well written and action provoking post, off to do something about it....

Suburbia said...

Rose the phrase 'Throwaways' is so awful but so incredibly accurate.

Hi David and thank you

Hi Molly thanks for visiting. Where abouts in Bristol is your son?

Mr Ryce, I'll be over in a mo!

Welcome MH and thank you

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

You need to move to the states and run for office.

Wow... that was so great. Wonderful post.

Pardon me, I need a tissue.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Gill - That British Woman said...

that's such a crying shame for these children........it breaks your heart, and you're right it takes a special person to be able to teach under those conditions.

Gill in Canada

Elizabeth said...

This is so horribly depressing and has been repeated generation after generation.
I give great credit to the man you met who is working on the front lines.
Sometimes one knows that children are doomed almost as soon as they are born - but very occasionally one is saved by someone who actually cares.
Makes one want to give one's own children an extra hug , doesn't it?

Nick said...

We desperately more schools and teachers like that to help all those children who are seriously emotionally and psychologically damaged by inadequate parenting. I don't know if you've heard of the amazing Camila Batmanghelidjh who founded Kids Company and The Place To Be. Between them they help around 32,000 such children every year. But there are still many more who get no specialist help at all.

Akelamalu said...

That man has found his true vocation and is making a difference to people who need it. It is inconceivable to most people that parents could ignore the needs of their children to the extent that those children's parents have.

This is an excellent post.

Hullaballoo said...

I know of counsellors who work in the Place to be Project. They do amazing work in deprived areas.

Suzysoo said...

To echo Elizabeth- it does make me want to hug my children closer and tell them that I love them.

That man deserves a medal for his efforts!

Liz said...

Beautiful post, suburbia. Thank goodness for people like that teacher.