John, a student of Goodwin Academy School in Deal, Kent kept falling asleep throughout lessons, which raised both frustration and concerns with his teachers and the senior leadership team. John is well-mannered, pleasant, a little scruffy but a proud young man and found the experience of sharing his problems with the school difficult, as many do. John’s mother is incredibly hard working, in fact she works several jobs as she is the only source of income, which places strains onto John and his two younger siblings. Life for them all is tough, much harder than many imagine, let alone understand. John’s mother survives on very little and will often will go without meals and the simplest of essentials purely to provide for her children. It is a constant struggle as she must juggle her family’s very existence from providing a roof over their heads, to food and warmth. Her love is unconditional, costs nothing to provide and her children suffer no hardship in this quarter. However, she has been unable to provide adequate warmth for her children.
John explained that the cold winter has been hard for them as they have been unable to afford heating in their small flat, with the long nights being the hardest. John and his mother struggle to sleep as they are cold. The youngsters are wrapped-up tight in all available bedding whereas John and his mother sleep in their clothes and coats as their priority is to keep the young ones warm. The classroom provides comfort and warmth and John inevitably turns to deep sleeps instead of learning. Of course, the teachers of Goodwin Academy rallied and provided sacks full of bed linen, which now provide night time warmth for the whole family.
I sat for several hours with Ann-Marie, the Vice Principal of Goodwin Academy School and she spoke openly about the children at her school. She cares deeply, and I cannot imagine how she wrestles with her emotions as some of the situations are difficult to accept. I was overwhelmed with sadness and cannot sit back without attempting to make a difference, which I have every intention of achieving. Sadly, John is not alone as the Thanet and Dover areas have two of the highest rates of child poverty in Kent and the south east, with around 17,200 children affected. As much as we would love to help each and every child, sadly we cannot however, we can make a difference to the children at Goodwin Academy. We have taken on a greater role and hope to support every child, not just those who are struggling financially, those in foster care or children from broken homes as I have learnt that children outside of these brackets often miss-out as much of the remedial support work, day trips and additional finances are not made available to them.