NEWLY released figures have revealed that one in every six children in Crawley is "living in poverty". There are also concerns that the gap between the rich and poor in the town is getting wider. A report by the Campaign to End Child Poverty into the issue at a local level has highlighted that some families are struggling to afford basics such as school uniforms, meals and trips.
Town wide, 17 per cent of children are said to be living below the poverty line. Broadfield South has more youngsters (29 per cent) living in poverty than any other ward. At the opposite end of the scale, just six per cent of children in Maidenbower are affected.
Broadfield South councillor Alan Quirk acknowledges child poverty is a significant problem in the ward but is positive about the future. He said: "It is scary that families are living through this and I think we have to work on building the aspirations of the people who live in Broadfield.
"We find that many families move into the neighbourhood and then out once they can afford to. It is not a place where people appear to come to for the long term and this then creates a cycle of people on lower incomes living in the area."Mr Quirk believes struggling parents must not be ashamed to ask for help.
He said: "We want to see these children and families go on to prosper but they have to want to get themselves out of the mire. "We have services available here, such as the vibrant community centre, the churches, the schools which are very proactive and Talk Broadfield which is there for people to let us know of any problems."
Brian Quinn, a councillor for Broadfield North, where 25 per cent of children are living in poverty, agrees that Broadfield is the most deprived of Crawley's neighbourhoods.
"We have a lot of single parent families who are obviously struggling," he said. "In the 1970s and 80s it was a very good neighbourhood and on the up but in recent times there has been a marked decline.
"Services are being cut and the families here are being hit the hardest. "My worry is that if this continues the gap between the rich and poor will continue to widen. "If you look at Crawley there is a huge gap between Pound Hill and Maidenbower to Broadfield. "There is a frightening statistic that you could die seven years earlier if you live in Broadfield compared to other areas of the town."