An estimated 300 children in Thanet are sleeping on the floor, sofas or sharing beds with siblings because families are living below the poverty line.
Data published in September 2021 shows Thanet has the highest number – 5,206 – and proportion -19.4&- of children living in absolute low-income families in Kent.
This is despite a fall of 10% – 606 children – from the previous year.
More than half of the wards in Thanet are within the 20% of wards in Kent with the highest proportion of children in absolute low-income families – defined as in low income before housing costs are added.
Hardest hit are Cliftonville West with 759 youngsters under 16 – or 27.2% – classed as living in absolute low income families, followed by Dane Valley with 536 – 26.9%.
For Newington the figure is 355, or 24.9%, followed by Margate Central with 351, or 23.9%.
For families struggling to survive, particularly amid recent hikes in food and utility costs, making sure their children have their own bed is not always possible.
The knock-on effect is the negative impact on children’s physical and mental health. If they are failing to get a decent night’s sleep, then they are less likely to be able to concentrate in school.
Mattresses or pillows used as a bed and stored on the floor are also more likely to be infested with bugs.
A bid to combat this has been launched on the isle by the Thanet Iceberg Project, run by Alexander Roarke -known just as Roarke- and Ann Newstead who also head up The Kitchen CT9 in Cliftonville.
Off The Floor aims to build wooden beds and provide them to every family in Thanet who needs them.
Roarke said the situation is a ‘scandal’ adding: “The simple premise is that we want to get as many children off the floor as we can by the end of the year.
“We are dealing with social services, schools, refuges and churches to ensure that every child is adequately provided with a bed.
“The council has a duty to house people but when they go to a refuge or temporary accommodation these are often furnished. The issue is when they are moved on it will mostly be to unfurnished accommodation. They may have left their furniture behind or they simply move in with nothing.
“Kids are sleeping on the floor because people are moving into unfurnished homes but have nothing. I have 4 families at the moment in this situation and we believe there are upwards of 300 children without beds (In Thanet).
“We have got a company selling us mattresses for £50 each and we are building the beds. We could get them for roughly the same cost but they are often material divan bases which can get bed bugs. Wooden beds are easier to keep clean.”
Roarke says the idea is for the community to get involved, helping to make the beds or donating their own spare beds.
He said: “This is a community problem and we want people to get involved.
“Families can make a bed – we will give them the materials and instructions – or people can come to our workshop and build one. Companies can use it as a team building event, or if you want to get involved but are on your own we can take your name and when we have three or four people we can put them together.
“Families can sponsor a child ‘Off The Floor’ and companies can take responsibility to get children off the floor.”
Roarke says he is writing to schools to make sure there is a list of every family that has children without a bed.
“Ultimately this is for the benefit of our kids. For every £110 we raise or every bed we make we can take a name off the list and we will keep ticking them off until there are no names left.”
The aim is to raise £20,000 to provide beds and bedding. Other furniture can also be provided trough The Loft, which is another Thanet Iceberg Project.
People are also being asked to nominate a child that they know needs a bed.
Parents-of-four Ann and Roarke have been the driving force behind a number of schemes to help people living below the poverty line, from running the community cafe to Christmas box projects, advice and practical help through the Thanet Iceberg Project, supplying furniture the The Loft and now the Off The Floor scheme
Disgusting that this in happening in our own country and goes under the radar until like Ann & Roarke step up.
Meanwhile all we hear is how much Ukraine etc need our help..
Maybe it’s not has fashionable to help your own!!
Good luck with this project
There is enough wealth and Rishis to share around….
We don’t need to just help one set of needy. We need to not have 5% of the population hoard 90% of the wealth.
It’s odd there has been a huge growth in wealth in thanet. Look at the number of high end cars, pvt and personalise number plates. The cost of houses and pvt rent. Theres lots of very well off people in thanet. Look at the prices in the arty shops.
At the same time more and more people are needing foodbanks, more kids are living below the poverty level.
So I guess its thank you Tories and your motto of ‘the rich get richer the poor get poorer’
Let’s remember, it was the Labour Party that said “We are intensely relaxed about people becoming filthy rich” (with the emphasis on ‘filthy’ of course)
I wonder if this project could link up with Freecycle. Obviously those in need cannot claim the larger items unless they have some way of transporting them. Volunteers with vans?
Oh, and Mr Chance – your observations are spot on. I think this trend is the cause of a lot of anger on this site. I used to like the Arty aspect and the influx of London hipsters – I thought it was a benign trend that promoted creativity and the availability of a decent cup of coffee … but now I realise it is gentrification pure & simple. And there are losers in this process, way too many.