Community leader hits out as 42% of Bentilee children live in poverty

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A community leader who has spent 56 years living in Bentilee, believes the estate unfairly gets a bad name.

John Davies reacted after latest figures showed almost one in two children on the Stoke-on-Trent estate live in poverty.

Mr Davies, who runs Bentilee Volunteer Centre, admits the area has its “fair share of problems”.

In the latest HMRC report, 41.8% of children in the Bentilee and Ubberley ward come from families in poverty, the highest of any ward in Stoke-on-Trent.

Mr Davis, 79, said: “Bentilee is suffering in many aspects.

“A high percentage of elderly residents, single parents, large families and high unemployment don’t help.

“A lot of the problems are down to income.

“But there have been problems with schools closing down, which means reduced primary education places in the area.

“All these things together add up to create problems for the community and the area gets a bad name wrongly, we don’t have the extent of crime people imagine.”

A child in poverty is defined as living in a family on an income less than 60% below the UK average.

If a child is living in poverty their health can deteriorate as parents cannot afford to feed them fresh fruit and vegetables, their homes can be cold and in disrepair.

Their education can be hit as they are unable to concentrate in school from stressful parenting, parents are unable to afford school trips, and it can result in children leaving school with poor or no GCSEs.

Figures released to show what percentage of children in Stoke-on-Trent live in poverty

Figures released to show what percentage of children in Stoke-on-Trent live in poverty

Parents and grandparents in Bentilee today said some parents contributed to their own problems.

Mother-of-three Emma Tunstall, 31, of Shenfield Green, said: “People get enough benefits to feed their kids, I don’t understand why there’s poverty.

“It’s not fair to tar us with the same brush. I can’t see how any mother would let their kids go without. The council can’t do anything, it’s a no win situation.”

Grandmother Sylvia Durber, 51, of Blythe Bridge, said: “There are people who spend money on drugs rather than their kids.

“I think the council should stop giving the parents money and give them food vouchers instead.

“Parents who can’t look after their kids should have them taken away from them and given to people who can’t have kids. That would solve it.”

Housekeeper Maria Pickard, 46, of Dawlish Drive, said: “I’m shocked, because you don’t see it.

“I walk up and down the streets and the kids look well looked after.

“I’ve got grandkids on the estate and their parents all work so I suppose that we’re not represented in the report.”

Ruth Pass, 68, of Ubberley Drive, agreed with the council’s figures, stating there was a lot of poverty in the area.

“They keep on putting poverty people on the estate, it’s not going to get any better.

“You’ve got to put people on the estate that will make it thrive. The council aren’t doing a lot for us.

“This estate has always had a bad reputation and if you start putting people here who are poverty stricken it won’t get any better.

“It’s the council’s fault. I know people have to have estate houses but why put the rubbish on us.”

Margaret Rawlinson, 64, of Aylesbury Road, who works at St Maria Goretti Catholic Primary School, said: “There are a lot of families that have a poor quality of life.

“A lot of them can’t put food on the table.

“Where do we get the support from to help? Child protection and social services need to help more. A lot of people are too nervous to come forward for help.

“I don’t see a way out for them, a lot of families do struggle.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has developed a ‘Children and Families in Poverty Strategy’.

This has introduced an offer that allows disadvantaged families to access free childcare for their children under two years of age.

They have also made an improvement in the number of children leaving school with five or more GCSEs A*-C.

The strategy has also reduced the number of young people not in education, employment and training.

The city council’s “Mandate for Change” has put the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership at the heart of delivering key priorities.

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