People were considered poor if they did not have basic human needs - food, safe drinking water, sanitation and shelter.
Such children who came under Barnardo's care tended to suffer from conditions such as ringworm, scabies, rickets, scarlet fever, measles, whooping cough, meningitis and tuberculosis.
Infant mortality rates not surprisingly tended to reflect living conditions - particularly room occupancy, according to health officials of the day.
And immigrants often lived in the poorest conditions, though Barnardo's steadfastly refused to discriminate, accepting children from all racial backgrounds.
Poverty in the 21st century tends to be a relative term, reflecting lack of access to a basic standard of living that others take for granted.
Healthcare for even the poorest has undoubtedly improved, but carers are concerned that the likes of measles, meningitis and tuberculosis are re-emerging in some deprived areas.
More than 100,000 children do not have a permanent home, and overcrowding makes children more vulnerable, a Treasury report said last year.
In 2000, 29% of white children lived below the so-called poverty line compared with 73% of Pakistani and Bangladeshi children in the UK, government figures show.