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Twenty per cent of Croydon's young people living in poverty, report shows

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ONE in five children in Croydon is living in poverty, with more than a third surviving below the breadline in the borough's most deprived areas.

Latest figures, contained in a report published on Wednesday, show more than 18,000 children across all wards are living in poverty-stricken households – defined as a home with a total income of less than £15,900 a year.

New Addington and Fieldway are the most deprived wards, where 33 per cent (1,031) and 37 per cent (1,461) of children respectively are living in poverty.

Selsdon and Ballards and Sanderstead are least affected, with both having around five per cent of children living in poor households.

Jad Adams, chairman of Croydon Nightwatch, a charity that hands out food parcels to the needy, has noticed an increase in the number of women with children relying on the service.

He said: "Most of the people who come to us are in overcrowded or poor conditions and are not actually homeless.

"But quite a few now are people who are in families but are coming to us for essentials. A lot of them have children and are taking food back to their children.

"Some people have children waiting back at home. Women had always been a smaller minority of the people who we would see, but we are seeing more women now.

"It was rare to see women of childbearing age or who had children, but now it's much more common."

The charity, founded in 1976, is handing out a third more food parcels than this time last year.

Fatima Koroma, founder of Croydon Food Store, which opens four days a week in Church Street, echoed Mr Adams' view.

She said: "On a weekly basis we are roughly seeing 25 to 30 families with children coming to us, and they are coming from all over.

"I was a mum, I went through extreme poverty with my kids. There were times when I fed them rather than myself; it's a huge problem."

Children's charity End Child Poverty, which released the report containing the figures, expects thousands more children across the borough to be plunged into poverty when forthcoming national changes to benefits, including a cap on housing benefit, come into force.

But Vidhi Mohan, Croydon Council's cabinet member for communities and economic development and councillor for Fairfield ward, said more needs to be done to get people off benefits and into work.

He said: "Young children in poverty is unacceptable and we need to do what we can.

"Work should pay more than benefits, but unfortunately there are people who find it better off to be on benefits than in work, which is why the Government is changing it so that it pays more to be in work than to be on benefits."

Percentage of children in poverty in each Croydon ward Addiscombe: 21% Ashburton: 21% Bensham Manor: 23% Broad Green: 29% Coulsdon West: 6% Coulsdon East: 10% Croham: 14% Fairfield: 21% Fieldway: 37% Heathfield: 15% Kenley: 11% New Addington: 33% Norbury: 19% Purley: 10% Sanderstead: 5% Selhurst: 30% Selsdon and Ballards: 5% Shirley: 18% South Norwood: 26% Thornton Heath: 25% Upper Norwood: 22% Waddon: 27% Woodside: 28% West Thornton: 24% Source: Child Poverty Map of the UK and South East England, published by Campaign to End Child Poverty

Twenty per cent of Croydon's young people living in poverty, report shows


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