Films, podcasts and blogs: lived experience of poverty

Posted on 15 Feb 2019 under Children's Voices, Lived Experience, Lived Experience, Poverty Premium

A bank of short films, videos, podcasts and blogs available to watch online that tell the stories of those living in poverty.



Sue on how her electricity key came to symbolise the stress and anxiety of poverty
(Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2018)

Sue from Inverness talks about how having to top-up her electricity key came to symbolise the stress and anxiety of poverty, and her struggles to make ends meet. [2 mins]

The Working Poor: Britain’s families living on the breadline (Channel 4 News, 2018)

Work is the best route out of poverty – it’s a slogan popular with politicians both left and right for the past two decades. But as the country surges towards record numbers of people in work – the number of those in work and in poverty too is also rising.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, 57 per cent of people in poverty live in households where at least one person has a job – up more than twenty per cent since 1995. [14 mins]

One in four children in Britain today are growing up in poverty. Experts say these figures are predicted to rise by nearly one million kids in the next five years. Rapper-turned-documentary maker Professor Green – aka Stephen Manderson – has done well, but he grew up in a home where there was a lot of stress over money.

In this intimate documentary, Professor Green sets out to uncover what life is like for young people living on the breadline today. Over several months he spends time with 10 year-old Kelly Louise, whose family have just been evicted from their home. They can’t afford a deposit on a new property and, facing the possibility of being homeless, Kelly Louise’s life is turned upside down.

Professor Green also follows the story of 14 year-old Tyler who has been living in cramped emergency accommodation for 18 months, and witnesses the damaging consequences of poverty on Tyler’s life now and in the future. [53 mins]

Fighting Shame (The Guardian, 2019)

A group of women use everyday items to tell of the sacrifices and difficult choices they face, and the community initiatives they have launched in an attempt to tackle the shame surrounding poverty and make policymakers listen. [24 mins]

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation also produced a podcast episode for their ‘Is Anyone Listening?’ series, featuring the women from the film.

Shy Bairns Get Nowt: Food Poverty in the UK (VICE, 2015)

VICE heads to Newcastle to go inside one of the busiest food banks in Britain, where food is being distributed for free to more than 1,000 people a week. We meet the dedicated volunteers and the locals for whom poverty has become a part of everyday life after decades of industrial decline and years of austerity cuts. Inevitably, in such a situation, the system will occasionally falter. [29 mins]

Breadline Kids (BBC, 2018)

According to Child Poverty Action Group figures, a quarter of Scotland’s children live in poverty and, shockingly, more than two-thirds of that number come from a family where at least one parent works. This sobering documentary looks at the lives of four families struggling to make ends meet.

Eleven-year-old John has moved to Dumfries from London while his mum’s application is processed for leave to remain in the UK. The family is not entitled to benefits so John, his 19-year-old sister Damola and their mum rely on the local foodbank. Damola, who volunteers there, says: ‘Without this place we’d be done. We would go hungry. John wants to eat when he wants to eat, it’s part of growing up’.

In Glenrothes, single mum Helen had to leave work to look after her 14-year-old autistic son Nathan. She’s careful, buying day-old rolls for 5p when she can, but still has to rely on financial help from 17-year-old son William, who earns just £3.50 per hour as an engineering apprentice.

In Glasgow, mum Marie’s health suffers as she worries about how she’s going to feed eight-year-old daughter Olivia and her teenage son, while in Aberdeen mum-of-three Kerry often goes without food to make sure her three children don’t have to. She says: ‘The reality is that a trip to the cinema could pay for dinners for a week so you have no choice but to deprive your children of what they see other children having all around them’. [58 mins]

UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights in Newham, East London (Just Fair, 2018)

Between 5 and 16 November 2018, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, visited different parts of the UK to gather evidence about the effects of poverty and inequality in local communities around the country. In an event jointly organised by Just Fair and Community Links in Newham (East London) on 12 November, local groups and more than 100 people shared their testimonies with the Special Rapporteur and his team. [4 mins]

You can find the Special Rapporteur’s preliminary findings here:

UN probes UK poverty amid benefits shake-up (Channel 4 News, 2018)

Being poor and on benefits in the UK can mean surviving on very little money – now the United Nations rapporteur on poverty has come to the country to investigate just how severe a problem it is.

The United Nations rapporteur on poverty has, in recent times, reported on extreme poverty in countries including Ghana, China, Mauritania and the USA. At the end of this week, Philip Alston will conclude a 12-day, fact-finding mission to the UK to see for himself what it means to survive on very little money in modern-day Britain. Here at a standing invitation from the government, he is hearing accounts of food banks, benefit delays and low pay. We have been to the north east of England and Essex to meet some of the people for whom making ends meet is a difficult and daily struggle. [12 mins]

Why life shouldn’t cost more if you’re poor – Shirley’s story (Fair By Design, 2018)

“My name is Shirley and I live in poverty”- One person’s story of struggling to make ends meet, and the impact of the Poverty Premium. [2 mins]

Hazel talks about in-work poverty (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2018)

Hazel, a single mum from Fife, who works part-time as a care assistant, talks about in-work poverty. [1 min]



Poverty in Britain: a social calamity (The Guardian, 2018)

The UK government has inflicted “great misery” on its people with “punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous” austerity policies according to a damning verdict from the United Nations poverty envoy.

As part of Philip Alston’s fact-finding mission around Britain, the Guardian’s social affairs correspondent, Robert Booth, followed the UN envoy for a day in Newcastle. He found people struggling to cope within a benefits system designed to force people into work with built-in delays to payments. Many have been referred to food banks with some still going hungry. [24 mins]

Solving poverty after Brexit – hosted by Ayesha Hazarika MBE (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2018)

Two years on from the Brexit vote, 14 million people are still in poverty and unable to make ends meet, let alone think about building a better future, and the UK is now reporting the first sustained rises in child poverty in decades. In the first episode of our ‘Is anyone listening?’ podcast, Ayesha Hazarika MBE speaks to people with lived experience of poverty to get their views on Brexit, whether their views are being listened to by politicians and what their lives will look like after we leave the EU. [31 mins]


Mum-of-three trapped by £8,355 high cost credit debt and poverty premium (The Sun, 2018)

Lis Vernalls, 43, says she’s unable to get out of debt due to the ‘poverty premium’, which sees the lowest-paid having to stump up more for bills, credit and other financial products. This article also features a 2 minutes video featuring Lis discussing the costs of the poverty premium.

Hunger Hurts. (Cooking On A Bootstrap – Jack Monroe, July 2012)

Jack Monroe, the now famous ‘Tin Can Cook’, writes in their first ever blog on poverty about the experiences of poverty and hunger.

Fair By Design blogs

Fair By Design campaign’s website includes a number of blogs and real life stories from people living with the costs of the poverty premium.

In their own words: Children’s experience of poverty in schools (The Guardian, 2014)

A Children’s Commission on Poverty inquiry report reveals vividly what it looks and feels like for young people to stand out from their classroom peers because they are poor

How to unlock poverty for dads like Martin (Church Action on Poverty, 2018)

Universal Credit isn’t working for people in Martin’s position. Martin Green, a trustee with Church Action on Poverty, shares his experiences of Universal Credit.

Jenn’s Words: “Living in poverty is like being punched in the face over and over and over on a daily basis.” (Poor as Folk, 2014)

A very detailed and personal story from the US-based blog ‘Poor as Folk’ about living below the breadline in the US.

This webpage is a collation of lived experience accounts of poverty and the poverty premium, not an endorsement of any ideas expressed in these accounts. The views expressed in each of the resources do not necessarily represent those of the APPG on Poverty.


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