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BBC OnePanorama


Last Updated: Monday, 24 October 2005, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
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The views expressed on these pages are not necessarily the views of the BBC. The e-mails published will be reflective of the balance of opinion received.

Lovely family - they deserve to get away from the problems. Nice to see people wanting to get out of their situation and into something better. I wish them well.
John Plant, Derby

It was concerning to see the report regarding Rowner, but I thought you caricatured Alverstoke. There is a difference between the two areas but I would hardly characterise the village as rolling in money, nor as a group of people having all you might want. Life is more than money and opportunity, contentment, and community friendship, with a spiritual hope for the future will go a long way to alleviate real problems regarding finances and other social problems.
Colin Dyer, Gosport

I very much enjoyed this week's Panorama, it was good to see a straightforward explanation of the problems that people like Kurt's family and many many others face, and why it is so difficult for them to break the cycle. My only criticism would be that the neighbouring, prosperous village was mentioned in comparison many times but we did not get the chance to hear about anyone who lived there to find out whether life really is a lot better there and why. Some more in-depth comparison would have helped.
Sophie Higgins, Bristol, UK

Very interesting programme, nice kid with loving family but I notice they both smoked, surely that must cost pounds per week that could go a long way to solving their problems?
Kester Marsh, Middlesbrough

What a wonderful family. Kurt is such a lovely child and is a credit to his family. I just wish them all the luck for the future
K Cheyne, Cheshire
I've not written in like this before but had to say something after watching the programme. What a wonderful family. Kurt is such a lovely child and is a credit to his family. I just wish them all the luck for the future.
K Cheyne, Cheshire

I watched this programme and this touched me as I came from a council estate in Fareham. I also, at one time, lived in the estate shown on this programme. I have moved on since then under my own self-drive and ambitions. I would just like to say to the family in the programme that they are good people and want the best for their little boy, so keep looking it will come to them in the end as long as they don't give up.
Paul Eames, Fareham

What a depressing yet enlightening tale. I was touched by the parents' determination to ensure a positive future for their son. It would seem so easy to simply slip into a life of truancy, petty crime and failing exams in the future. That may sound stereotypical, but I don't think it's far from the mark. I was also impressed by Kurt's outlook on life. Nice to see a child being raised so well, despite the hardships. I don't live in a wealthy area myself, but at least there were some opportunities for me here. I don't know what the answer is, but I wish them the best of luck.
Stephen, St Helens , Merseyside

I identified with the issues raised. I lived on a Council estate for 26 years, family of four children, mother and father not working. I worked hard to get qualifications which paid off. Without the qualifications though , I'd have had no chance. Government initiatives like NRF must be used solely for these issues across the country, regardless of the postcode you live in.
Jane, Liverpool

We would like to express our feelings on tonight's programme. We feel that this portrayed a very biased view of people living in the area. I, for one, was bought up by a single parent and lived in Rowner for 17 years. I now own my own home and have worked since the age of 14. My friend has been living in Rowner for 10 years and has two children, both grown up: one is at university and the other is in full-time employment. We have no pity for this family shown on your programme. If they are in that bad debt, how can they afford the bikes they go arround on? This programme was by no means a true portrayal of Rowner. Granted there are some families living in poverty and not working, but you might find there are just as many who do work hard in order to make ends meet. Therefore, just because you have been bought up or are living in Rowner, it does not mean you are going to end up in prison or on the dole.
Former and present resident of Rowner, Holbrook and Rowner

Kurt's family are people we should be helping. Why are they being failed? To all who moan about their job or their situation just take a look at this loving family battling on and bringing up a well mannered, bright young boy who should have everything to look forward to. Good luck to them - let's hope that somebody sees the potential.
Liz, Glasgow, Scotland

It's not about money or debt, it's about determination
Roxanne Peach, Gosport
I am 16, I spent my childhood lving in Rowner, from age six to age ten. Then once again after my parents divorced, I spent three months living in Rowner again. I am now doing my A-levels at Bay House sixth form, having passed all my GCSEs. My parents gave us the chance to do that, we never got dragged into the way of life that consumes people in Rowner. This shows that people aren't bound to where they live, unless they believe themselves to be. Kurt and his family don't have enough will power to make it better; if they did, they would have. It's not about money or debt, we had that too, it's about determination. We were not bound to where we live and we are now living in Gosport.
Roxanne Peach, Gosport

Excellent programme. The only way to really see what is going on in this country is to meet the people living day to day in their local environments. Too much spin is applied to government pronouncements. Top marks to the BBC for providing a reality check. Let there be more of these spotlights on real life!
Dave, GB

Why is it that people with such large debts, as seen on programmes like tonight's, always have a cigarette on, have two dogs and loads of other pets, such as the rabbits. Has anyone told them the price of these items and what they could save a month if they didnt have them? I am a retired firefighter and, though I live comfortably, I couldn't afford to smoke and pay vet bills.
Dave Miller, Scotland

I struggled with finding a job, when I re-trained. I took the first job I could and that led to another and then another. I was lucky that I was good at my job and worked very hard, much harder than everyone else had to.

Mark did not help anyone, least of all Kurt, by giving up a job he disliked. Going from something to nothing is a stupid move. Tell him if you've got a job, you can get another. A good reference and some experience is far better than a misplaced intention and a bucket of hope.

And don't swear in front of your kids, they do it at school and get excluded or wind up the teachers, who are not allowed to swear.
N Barnett, Sheffield

I think the message that came across as clear as day in the programme, is that government intervention has very little pragmatic effect on the ground; but rather serves as a guilt-pacifier for the chattering classes.

Regardless of training programmes and benefit-subsidies (e.g: tax credits) there will always have to be people performing unfulfilling jobs on the minimum wage. To educate one man, and propel him into a better quality of life, merely creates a vacancy that another less fortunate man will fill.

It is about time that people realised that the quality of life available in these communities are based on the people who stay there, and that each person has to be responsible for what they put into their local environment; whether that be noise pollution, atmospheric pollution, litter or anti-social behaviour.

The state cannot be on guard 24 hours a day to referee the behaviour of people in local communities, for that is a task of the individual to do himself.

Until the problems of state intervention and government dependence is realised, the quality of life at the bottom of society is only going to get worse.
Andrew, Scotland, UK

What Kurt needs is a 'Sure Start' scheme that doesn't stop at 5 years old. This programme shows the desperate need for investment in youth development programmes. What a pity that the new Youth Green Paper is proposing to spend resources on a glossy youth opportunity 'swipe card' rather than focusing resources in areas like this.
jennie Butterworth, London

For a start both parents should quit smoking and this will save them money. It's no use pleading poverty with a fag in their mouth. Also, no one forced them into debt - that was their own decision. We could all get into debt, but sensible people only buy what they can afford.
Mrs M Loomes, Dundee, Scotland

Thank you to Kurt, his family and your team for taking the courage to film tonight's Panorama. What a truly wonderful family who should be congratulated for their strength and determination. They are right - all that the Government promises do not form joined-up writing.
Judi Hawkins, Ashcott, England

If all schools offered a high standard of education, there wouldn't be a postcode lottery
L Armes, London
Thank you for showing this programme. Thousands of children are being let down and all the government can suggest is that school intake rules should be changed. This is not the answer. If all schools offered a high standard of education, there wouldn't be a postcode lottery.

The programme also highlighted the fact that some areas of poverty are being totally neglected whilst other deprived areas, particularly with high ethnic minority populations, are receiving a lot of government aid. These residents couldn't even get a small amount of government funding to provide social activities for their kids.
L Armes, London

I thought that the Panorama programme was very biased, it portrayed Alverstoke as "Heaven" and Rowner as "Hell". It only showed one small part of Rowner (which does have some much nicer areas) and a small area in Alverstoke.

I live in Alverstoke and there are "poorer" areas with many small houses (some ex-council) and it does have its own problems, admittedly nowhere near as many as that part of Rowner.

Kurt's father, Mark, and the reporter seemed to blame all of his problems on his postcode but surely if he sold his bike, stopped smoking and didn't have two dogs then he could afford to rent a house in another area. If he thinks that moving to a different area would guarantee him a job then he obviously doesn't live in the real world. Maybe his past drug-taking, lack of qualifications and, I hate to say it but, his appearance might count against him.

I though Kurt was a lovely lad, but he said he did not want to move away from Rowner anyway, thus contradicting the point of the programme
M Williams, Alverstoke, England

I couldn't stop thinking about Kurt for ages after the programme ended and he has been on my mind all this morning. I was wondering what school half-term would hold for him. He is a delightful child and I am so relieved his grandmother wants them all to stay with her for as long as they can. It concerned me when Mark said they needed "better teachers" - I do hope Kurt isn't being failed at school. He deserves to do well and should be given every opportunity to flourish. Is there any chance we could be given an update on the fammily's progress - say in a year's time? I absolutely loved the programme and it had a very profound effect on me.
Caroline Williams, Formby, Merseyside

After watching the programme tonight, we can't help but wonder why, as a society, we tolerate the government cutting funding for projects that help keep young people from becoming the future's criminal statistics. Surely they should look at training within the community in the specific roles that are needed to maintain the properties ie: plumbers,builders, joiners, electricians, caretakers, grounds people.

They would have pride in their community, hope for the future, possibly would save the governments thousands on vandalism/jail costs, not to mention the children would probably be eager to attend school knowing jobs could be at the end of it.

The Prince's Trust is currently losing funding in my area and it will make a very bad impact on all surrounding communities. We need to act now. Sadly most people who are clean of drugs like Kurt's dad suffer from depression and living in a deprived area can only lead to a downward spiral.
Paula and Andy Townsend, Oldham, Lancs, England

Your programme about Kurt and his family was very good. However, I do think that several important items were not covered. Firstly, the educational background of Mark and Rachel was not clear. It was apparent that they do not have the right qualifications but do they have any qualifications? Is there any support system that could help them to identify what type of work they would really like and then help them achieve the necessary qualification?

Also, there was not enough emphasis given to the totally debilitating effect that constant worry about debt actually causes. The fact that Mark left his job appeared irresponsible on the television but the poor man was under an enormous amount of pressure and something had to give. As his mother-in-law said "at least he didn't have a nervous breakdown." I hope that something can be done to help these genuine caring and hard working people.
Jane Dewick, UK

I would just like you to pass on my comments to Kurt and his family. They are an inspiration to thousands of young couples with children today. They face a long hard battle ahead to get themselves out of debt and out of poverty, but if they continue to hold on to each other as a family they will succeed. They have a beautiful little boy who needs to be loved and cherished. Don't be afraid to show him love and hold his hand on the way to school. He is a credit to you both and I wish you all the best wishes in the world. I have no doubt that if you keep strong and believe in yourselves, that you will get out of the situation that you find yourselves in, still together giving Kurt the greatest start in life that any parents can give - love and two parents together.
Pauline Carolan, England

I was intensely moved by the desparate plight of this family, doing all they can to keep their heads above water. The short clip with a government minister highlighted for me that they are a million miles from any kind of connection with the people who really need help. One can draw comfort only from the fact that there are families, like this one, who despite adversity do the best they can for their children.
Tim Schofield, Southampton, UK

These people should be given every kind of help to escape the situation they are in. It would be a small cost to help people like these. How much would it cost taxpayers if he went back to crime? a great deal more, Find a way to help these people.
Leslie Pearson, Marske Cleveland

They are both very good parents, but how can they afford to gain qualifications that will enable them to get a better paying job? I think more should be done by Government to remove barriers to enable people from deprived areas to gain more skills and qualification and have a good lifestyle. Good luck to Kurt and his family and keep up the good work. Maybe the MP for that area should life a day in the life and see first hand the issues and barriers faced by living just on the bread line.
Monica Mccourt, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland

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