A British politician has shared a letter from an 11-year-old girl who told him she has problems sleeping because she has to sleep on the floor of her family-of-seven’s one-bed council flat.
In the letter, the unnamed girl says: “I sleep on the floor with my two older sisters and every night when my dad gets up to go to work he always has to turn on the light so he doesn’t step on us.”
She said that she is worried about the lack of sleep because “I am doing my SATs in two months and I can’t concentrate in class.”
The letter continues: “I am falling behind in class and it’s because nobody cares about me and (nobody) wants to see me happy. I feel like you don’t care because if you did you would help me.”
The little girl added: “Everyday I see my mum crying and it makes me cry. I don’t like to speak about it but I have no choice.”
Stephen Timms, Labour MP for East Ham, said the handwritten note had been handed to him at his surgery on Friday.
People were clearly devastated by the girl’s letter:
One of so many. Why have we given up on funding family support and early help across the country. Such a waste despite clear economic arguments.
— David N Jones (@JonesDavidN) March 18, 2019
This is awful – clearly an intelligent young person – she and thousands like her deserve a better life than that and a better future. How many good quality council houses could we have built in the last three years with all the money we've wasted on Brexit?
— Huw Sayer #Writer ✒ (@HuwSayer) March 18, 2019
For god's sake get the child some help straight away. ????
— Judy Hamilton (@secretspartacus) March 18, 2019
Just heartbreaking. And some schools would punish this child and put her in an isolation booth for forgetting her pen, or coming in trainers one day, or being a few minutes late. And they would.
What have some schools come to? This #zerotolerance approach has to end in schools.
— Talk for Teaching (@PaulGarvey4) March 18, 2019
Heart breaking. And true for so many young people in London. A decent place to live is the foundation for education, health and much more. Yet all our energies are focussed on a constitutional crisis entirely of our own making
— Veronica Oakeshott (@visioncampaigns) March 18, 2019
Christ, that's heartbreaking, and I fear there are many more stories like that all around us.
— Louis Barfe (@AlanKelloggs) March 18, 2019
Moved to tears. Especially how at the age of 11 yrs old she is far more articulate and eloquent than people twice her age. Thank you for sharing.
— The Mark A. Wright Show (@kingswing72) March 18, 2019
Several people reached out to see if they could help, with some offering up their services, particularly for the girl’s birthday:
It's not even a question of https://t.co/JNMRAcjcwe we as a country have the resources available (people, materials, land) to build good quality council houses?If yes, then we can do it; any reason against is purely ideological
— Jonathan Williams (@jonwilliams80) March 19, 2019
That’s awful @stephenctimms and at the same time we know her and her family are not alone ???? DM me if I may support – at the very least I’ll cover the cost of her taking her friends ‘out’ for her next birthday. Let’s definitely remind her that people do care ????????❤️????
— Harry Singha (@harrysingha) March 18, 2019
If there's a way that we can help, please count us in.
A party at a race circuit for her, her family and friends? And the chance to meet some racing drivers or riders.
We'll host. They'll be our guests. pic.twitter.com/BRqCtDmlWi
— StopwatchHospitality (@StopwatchSuites) March 18, 2019
Stephen, while it would be beyond the means of Twitter to find housing, I am sure we could at least pay for a birthday party at a local venue, to which she could invite her friends. It would be a start. Could someone from your office handle the funds so as to respect her privacy?
— Francis Evans (@francis_evans) March 18, 2019
Please let me help. I'm sitting on the toilet at work crying in shame and pity for this poor kid. I've been lucky & so have my two kids never to face a situation like this.
— Chris Smith #GTTO (@ChrisSamsDad) March 18, 2019
Serious offer. I’ve just been paid a bonus from work. I’d happilly send £100 which is what i’d spend on my son’s birthday party usually, so she can at least do something nice for 12th bday. Get in touch
— Paul W (@Paulosdub) March 18, 2019
One Twitter user pointed out that while helping this one girl is admirable, there are so many more just like her that could also use assistance:
The people offering to pay for her birthday party, tutor her for her SATs etc are very heartwarming. But there must be thousands more like her. It's not enough to offer charity to this one child – we need to change Britain so no child is in this situation.
— Melanie Rimmer (@Melanie_Rimmer) March 18, 2019
Sadly this is true. The true stories of parents unable to feed their children is heartbreaking, all the more so as it is not being addressed by the Government and in fact their actions have considerably increased the suffering.
Make cases like this known to your local SVP.
— MontaigneMaths (@MontaigneMaths) March 18, 2019
Mr. Timms told the Press Association he had contacted the council and “made one or two suggestions.”
“They are in a one-bedroom flat, they have been in it for over 10 years now. The family has got considerably bigger in that period, and it’s been impossible for them so far to move to larger council or Housing Association accommodation.
“It’s a council flat that they’re in. They’ve been there since about 2006, but the longer it goes on, the harder it becomes,” he said.
“But it isn’t unusual to find. In my surgery I often have people coming to see me in situations that are not dissimilar to that. I don’t often get letters that are quite as striking as that one. It’s one of the most striking I’ve had.”
Mr Timms added: “My conclusion from it all is that we’ve got to do – and I’m sure we will do before too long – exactly what we did last time…in the 1960s, when we had a big programme of council house building. Which we will have to have again before too long.”