‘I revise in bed’ – The heartbreaking story of 15-year-old GCSE pupil going to school hungry
PUBLISHED: 18:30 03 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:56 04 December 2019
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The harrowing story of a 15-year-old from Sudbury – who featured in a Channel 4 documentary about children growing up in poverty this week - is just one of the many forced to use food banks in the market town.
GCSE student Danielle was interviewed as part of the distressing Dispatches film, in which she revealed she went to school hungry and was forced to revise in cramped conditions.
The teenager and her mum, Jodi, were seen visiting the Storehouse foodbank, during the summer.
Vicky Leonard, team leader at the foodbank, said theirs is just one of the many harrowing stories she hears of people struggling to make ends meet in west Suffolk.
"We have parents coming in who haven't eaten for a couple of days because their children are so hungry," Ms Leonard said.
"It is heartbreaking and it makes us so angry because these are really lovely people who have fallen into poverty. We've got people coming in now who have jobs but are struggling to make ends meet.
"It hits men hard - we've had men in tears desperately trying to feed their children. It is harrowing, and with mental health services cut to the bone people are facing an impossible burden, not just financially but emotionally too.
She added: "Sudbury in particular is affected by recent business closures, a lot of manufacturing firms have closed down recently and people have lost jobs, and it's had a knock on effect. Demand is up 66% on 2018."
The film told how Danielle's parents separated and could not afford to keep the family home. She was living with her mum in temporary housing - a cramped studio apartment - while her younger brother Phoenix was living with their dad in similar circumstances.
Danielle broke down in tears on the programme, her family's situation, which has since improved slightly after they were rehoused, was taking its toll on her revision and mental health. She said: "I have to revise in my bed, it's like stressful having to revise for all the subjects and remember it all.
"I can be really happy one minute and the next I can be screaming and shouting at everyone and the next minute I can just be really tired. Sometimes I get to the point where I will self-harm and I'll feel like I want to kill myself but then I'll think about how much it'll impact me and everyone else in my life."
Since the documentary aired, messages of support and sympathy have flooded in for all the families featured. The Aletheia Foundation, a registered charity, has received a flood of donations since the airing of the film.
Lesley Galpin, from Suffolk, tweeted: "Danielle lives in Sudbury, and her story is heartbreaking. Wonderful young people growing up as carers, in poverty, in 21st century Britain."