Liverpool news Life in Wirral area where one in two children live in poverty PremierLeague-News.Com
PremierLeague-News.Com - For some, it is the paradise penisula, but for many families in one Wirral ward living in an area with some of the highest levels of poverty in the country, it is a 'borough of two halves'
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! Many people living on the Wirral would probably agree it is a borough of two halves. For some, Wirral is the "paradise peninsula", a place of picturesque beaches, historic villages and a perfect spot to raise a family. In other parts of the Wirral, however, families are experiencing high levels of poverty. A 2019 Wirral Intelligence Service report into deprivation in the borough highlighted one example in particular which revealed the extent of this stark inequality. In Thurstaston in the west of Wirral, not a single child was identified as experiencing deprivation while less than ten miles away on the peninsula's east side, the children of Bidston and St. James' ward are identified as among the top 2% deprived in the country with more than one in two children experiencing poverty. The report also revealed how the picture is steadily getting worse, with the creep of deprivation reaching out beyond those areas which have been experiencing chronic social and economic issues for decades, creating new pockets of deprivation even as other parts of the borough continue to thrive. Bidston and St James ward in Wirral is among the most deprived areas in the country (Image: Google Street View) Know as the "great M53 divide" this disparity came into sharp focus in 2017 when Wallasey MP Angela Eagle described to parliament the pattern of poverty in Wirral, saying: "If a line is drawn down the M53, the difference in life expectancy between the west side and the poorest parts of the east side is 10 years.” In 2018, local historian Mike Royden spoke to the ECHO about his views on the historical reasons for this divide. He said: "The unique thing about the Wirral is you think of Birkenhead and you’ve got the working class and industrial factor, and then you look to the west and you have the 'escapism' of the mega rich. It's poverty mixed with vast wealth" "When you look at how areas of the east originated in the mid to late-1800s as working, industrial dockside areas, poverty round there was rife. Areas like Birkenhead and Ellesmere Port have always had a tough time. "Poverty has been around in various guises for a long time. You still see it around, it’s just how you quantify it." In the heart of Bidston and St James, at independent community hub Building Bridges, Paul Smithhurst, who runs Wirral Hair Therapy, providing free haircuts for struggling families, would agree. Paul told the ECHO: "There's poverty, there's poor job outlooks here but when we look at Birkenhead, low income families have been around in this area since the 1850s. "This centre we have here, it used to be called the Cavendish Centre. It was a mission, then a school and then a youth club. It stood empty for over 20 years before Michelle took it over. "The big thing that changed around here recently happened in the 1980s, when we started to see drugs more in Birkenhead, a little virus called crack. "Along with that comes the anti social behaviour as a problem. At one point Frank Field declared parts of Birkenhead a no go area. "The problems here are many and varied, but money's the evil that makes these pockets appear." For Michelle Bridges, who runs Building Bridges on Bray Street in Birkenhead attempts to tackle the problems of deprivation in the area takes on many forms. From a social supermarket to AA meetings, free hairdressing to IT facilities as well as activities for children and training for young people, Michelle says there is no shortage of issues to address. Michelle, who has been operating the social supermarket throughout the pandemic, says she has been seeing more and more people in work coming to access the service. She told the ECHO: "We're not just looking at people out of work, there's a lot of people struggling at the moment. "We have families who are faced with decisions about whether to eat or buy clothes for their kids, and that's why we stock uniforms and other items of clothes too. "We're not council run and all the money we get coming in goes back into what we do here and we make sure there are items that are recognisable, like brand returns from Boohoo and other places, because it can be a stigma to people and we want to make sure it's not like that for people coming here." Sign up for the MyWirral newsletter The MyWirral newsletter will bring you news from across the borough in a way you’ve never had before. Whether it's celebrating people, sharing issues or discussing latest news, our newsletter covers all things Wirral. Signing up is free and it only takes a minute for you to get the biggest stories, sent straight to your inbox. How to sign up for a MyWirral Email Update 1) Go to our dedicated newsletter page at this link. 2) Put your email in the box where indicated 3) Tick MyWirral News . 4) Press Save changes and that's it! 5) There are plenty of other newsletters to choose from too.
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. She said: "With what we do, people don't have to go through the Job Centre or get referred, they can just come in. "With covid we realised we had to stay open for people, although a lot of other centres did close because of the risks and were doing deliveries instead. "I think we gained a lot of respect in the community staying open, and it's been really important, for some people some days were are the only person they see. "We've just got on with things, we see something that needs doing and we just go ahead and do it." For Paul, the large number of community groups working in the area and the skills of the people in the community is the key to building the area's way of out adversity.
Building Bridges is a community hub in the Bidston and St James ward
(Image: Building Bridges Wirral)
He said: "I believe in community assets. We can all be community assets and it's about identifying them. They could be buildings or people. I'm one of them with Wirral Hair Therapy. It's about creating networks, and if people are struggling they can be linked up and get or give advice." For Labour councillor Liz Grey, who has represents the Bidston and St James ward since 2018 and says "many in this area have not had a fair share of life's cake" in the absence of a change of government, community is the key to change. She told the ECHO: "Bidston and St James is a very long ward that stretches from Beechwood, Ballantyne and Bidston Village through numerous very different communities towards central Birkenhead. "I have worked in Birkenhead for over 17 years, my sister was a GP in Bidston and St James for many years and I have family from the North End, so I am very familiar with the problems and concerns of this area which includes significant poverty and deprivation and the mental and physical health problems that are associated with that." Cllr Grey says the area's problems have been exacerbated by both "direct" and "indirect" government austerity, including local authority cuts to education, health and police services. She said: "All of these significant cuts have impacted on our poorest communities more than any other groups and left many of our residents feeling battered. We are told austerity is over but it certainly doesn't feel like that."
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She said: "The local councillors do everything they can to work with the really amazing local community groups and the Council works in partnership with some extraordinary charities to coordinate and provide services that will most benefit local families, not just in the short term, but long term by breaking the cycle of poverty, academic under performance and unemployment. "It is really important that such initiatives are not done at people but with people and that is why the work of schemes such as Cradle to Career are so important." With millions of pounds of funding for a collaboration between Wirral Council, educational and other charities, the Cradle to Career programme was launched by the council last year and is aimed at transforming services and life opportunities for the area's residents. She said: "This is a really new initiative to bring together a wide range of local service providers to focus on vulnerable families in the North End and work very closely with them to ensure that they and especially their children have all the help that they need to flourish in life. "It is basically ensuring that people who might normally fall through the many holes in the safety nets of our society are safer and well cared for but in a way that promotes understanding and resilience, rather than dependence." Enter your postcode below to find local businesses to support
She says that despite the chronic problems in the ward, many residents are fond of their local area. She said: "When I speak to residents, many of them are perfectly happy living here and have no problems to report. "They love living in the communities in which they do, with networks of family support all around them. It is important to remember that it is not all doom and gloom." The councillor said: "In many ways, things are really looking up for Bidston and St James" with the nearby regeneration of Birkenhead and the Wirral Waters scheme as well as new homes being built in the area. She said: "We have some good quality new homes being built and environmental improvements such as cycle lanes, street trees and green open spaces are being built right now with more planned for the near future. The Council and our partners recognise that many in this area have not had a fair share of life's cake and are coming together to work with local people to resolve the problems we can and I think things are really starting to improve."
Source = PremierLeague-News.Com