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Living with Poverty

Programme Run: 4 x 30 mins
Production: BBC
First Transmitted:  2013 HD available 


This series of authored documentary films offers insights into the real world of hardship and poverty. Each film-maker explores an area of England and records the stories of people who live on or close to the so-called breadline. Some contributors live in fear of slipping into debt and poverty; others are already struggling to make ends meet. We hear powerful personal testimonies and witness lives that can often go unnoticed by the media and wider society.

Our preview videos are intended for broadcasters looking to licence content from the Open University. 

 Film-makers take a none-judgmental and ‘grassroots’ approach by capturing stories from people living in challenging circumstances; our  approach is thoughtful and intelligent with the purpose of furthering understanding of poverty.

The films cover different forms and ideas of poverty including: rural hardship, relative poverty, the working poor, child poverty, geographical poverty, plus poverty of ambition and expectations.

Country Kids
Holt, a beautiful market town in North Norfolk, known as prosperous and well-heeled, turns out to be a hot spot of child poverty on the quiet. We follow the travails of local charity leader, Julie Alford, as she juggles her tireless work with local youths and their families, with her unremitting efforts to raise funding for the charity. Through this charity, Holt Youth Project, we come to know three families with young children, struggling to balance meagre budgets while coping with disability and severe illness among the parents

MInd the Gap
This programme takes us on a journey from Mayfair to Star Lane, exploring the staggering 21-year drop in life expectancy across the London Underground Network.  It looks at inequality in London through the lives and eyes of those living at different sides of the wealth divide. Inspired by a survey by UCL, which shows that life expectancy can drop by up to 21 years across the London tube and rail network – the same divide as between London and Ethiopia.The film asks what life is like at these two extremes. 

Peas and Paypacket
Film Director Sean Mcallister goes back to his hometown Hull to look for former workers in a pea factory where he once worked. In his journey he discovers a new landscape of working poor people unable to makes ends meet despite working a full week and are reliant on food banks to feed their families.  The film is intercut with raw footage from a film Sean make 23 years ago in a hull pea factory.  

The Queen of North Shields
Josephine moved to North Shields as a refugee from Zimbabwe 13 years ago. Her husband Michael works as a nurse in care homes and they send home between 4 and 7 hundred pounds a month to support their relatives back in the village.  Although they are seen as rich by their family in Africa, they live on one of the most deprived and stigmatised estates in Britain, Meadow Well.

What perspective does this give them on the poor British families that surround them, and what do Meadow Well residents think poverty is? The Queen of North Shields is a study of relative poverty in Tyneside and Zimbabwe and an exploration of the attitudes, identities and circumstances which define poverty in both places.


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