Camila Batmanghelidjh: A child chipped at pieces of brick to fill his empty belly


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The Independent Online

As toddlers, Taylor, Henry and Adam used to draw pictures of food on pieces of paper and swallow them. Mary, 15, and her 16-year-old brother stole frozen meat and ate it raw. Their stories are less common than they used to be. Shockingly, more and more children are coming to Kids Company for food.

Child abuse is not the only reason children are left hungry. Sometimes loving parents run into financial trouble because of loans they have taken for basic household needs, which are deducted from their benefits. We support a family of five who were surviving on £20 a week.

Children of substance abusers are uniquely disadvantaged because their parents use all the family's money to support habits. One such child described to us how, at a friend's house, she used to steal food from the dog bowl.

Young people living alone on benefits of £53 a week don't have any money left for food once they have paid their gas, electricity, water, rent, laundry and travel. Try living on £10 a week for all your meals.

I had a child in my office this week telling me that he used to chip at pieces of brick to fill his empty belly. While we run campaigns to feed the starving in Africa, we starve African children on our own streets because they don't have British papers so are denied access to benefits. Their mothers traumatise them by working in the sex trade for morsels of food.

Kids Company feeds about 2,000 children a week their main meals. No one wants to sponsor our food programme because you can't put a Corporate Responsibility plaque on a child's belly.

Starving children in one of the most admired and affluent countries in the world: why?