Grimethorpe Activity Zone (GAZ)
Supporting Children and Young People
Hi, my name is Ben, I am 14. Last week at school, we learnt about Anne Frank and how she kept a diary about her life. Her diary told of her daily struggles and fears, whilst hiding from the Nazis, during the Second World War. Her story was sad and upsetting and it made me think about how sometimes I feel like I am hiding away from the world. So, I decided to keep a diary about my everyday life. This is a day from my diary.
Wednesday 15th January 2020
Getting up It was so cold when I woke up, the house was freezing, we are trying not to use the heating much, there are so many things we need. I put my uniform on, it was dirty and smelt, it could do with a wash. We get our universal credit tomorrow. mum says she can do a wash then.
My Mother is still in bed, she is feeling a bit down at the moment, so I help my younger brother and sister get ready. There’s some bread left, so I make us all a slice of toast and we set of for school. I am still hungry, but it will soon be dinner time.
Heading to school My mate Jack was waiting for me at the end of our street. He had a banana and he gave me a bite. Gary and his mates come up behind us and start making fun of us and pushing us, they called us scroungers and made fun of our clothes and hair. We ran and manage to get to school before they caught us.
At school Jack was sent out of registration and put into isolation, because he would not take his coat off, when the teacher asked him to. He told me later that he didn’t want to take it off because his jumper was filthy and he was embarrassed. He said he had tried to explain to the teacher, but she wouldn’t listen.
At dinner time In the dining room Gary walked by our table and pushed my plate away, he shouted “my mam has to work to pay for my dinner, you get yours free, you scrounger”.
In the afternoon I got into a bit trouble for not having my PE kit. It was in such a state that I couldn’t wear it, so I didn’t bring it. My teacher wasn’t that bad, he understood when I explained to him.
Going Home At home time we decide to take another route home, it’s a long way, but we will avoid meeting up with Gary and his mates.
At Home When I got home, I tidied up a bit. My mother is not very well at the moment, she worries so much about not being able to provide for us. She told me there was some beans for tea and some bread for toast. There wasn’t much, so I made it and told her to share it with my brother and sister, as I was going to GAZ and I would be able to get something to eat there.
Going to GAZ Walking down to GAZ I had to pass Gary and his mates. They tried to trip me up and pushed me against a fence and made fun of my trainers and that I still had my uniform on, they told me that I stink and called me a scrounger. Gary and his mates come to GAZ, but they have to leave me alone while I am there. If they get caught picking on people they would be thrown out, GAZ won’t allow bullying.
When I get to GAZ, I am relieved that it’s open. Jack is there waiting for me and we go in. There’s always free food, I had a sandwich and a sausage roll from Greggs, Greggs donate a lot of food to GAZ. There’s also fruit and I have a banana and some grapes.
There’s lots to do at GAZ, I had a game of pool with Jack then we played FIFA football on the Xbox, then we played bingo. Jack won a bar of chocolate for winning a line and shared it with me.
I love going to GAZ, I can be like everyone else there, everything is free. money doesn’t matter. I can’t go swimming, I can’t go to MacDonalds, or to the pictures, but I can go to GAZ. I can even do my homework there, they have computers and they help us.
Gaz is closing, time to go home, I wish it was open more often and stayed open longer.
Going home and Going to bed We left GAZ before Gary, so we wouldn’t have any trouble on our way home. When I got home, I watched TV for a while, but it got very cold, so I went to bed to get warm. I laid in bed thinking about my day and my life. I wouldn’t swap my mother for anything, but I wish she was rich, then I could be like everyone else. I could have nicer clothes, good things to eat, go to more places and on school trips. Ah well, another day over, it might be better tomorrow.
Ben’s story is fiction, but the troubles and problems that he talks about are real. They are just some of the ways that poverty impacts on the lives of children and young people who live here. When we decided to tell this story, our team came together and each member of staff told their own accounts of the impact poverty had on the lives of children and young people they worked with, what they had witnessed and what they had been told, we used these to write Ben’s story.
The issues that Ben faced is why GAZ exists. Children and young people can’t choose which family they are born in to, it’s not their fault that they are poor, but they can be given support, to help close the gap with children from more affluent families. Giving your Support to GAZ will allow us to help young people like Ben and make their lives more bearable, and hopefully give them a smoother journey into adult life.