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Page last updated at 07:51 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 08:51 UK
What's it like to live in poverty?

Anthony Baxter
BBC Switch presenter

Teenager
Figures show there are around 4 million young people struggling in the UK

It's one of the richest cities on the planet, but almost half of London's under 18s - 600,000 of them - live in poverty.

Experts say one reason why London has it worse is because of immigration.

It's thought about half a million people immigrate to the UK every year, with 40 percent heading for the capital.

Oni, 16, lives in Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived parts of the city.

"Sometimes I don't have money for my lunch, I don't have good clothes, and sometimes I feel shame," he said.

Oni came to live in London three years ago from Bangladesh and he sees the city as a place of great opportunity.

He is studying for his A levels and hopes to go to university, but he says he can't find a part-time job, and life is tough.

"(Places like Oxford Circus), most of the time I don't have enough money to buy, I just walk around and feel, I feel shame, I can't afford to buy," Oni said.

"I pretend to have money. I borrow my uncle's and my friends' clothes."

When Labour came to power in 1997, there were around 4.5 million children living in poverty in the UK.

Oni
Oni came to live in London three years ago from Bangladesh

The government has helped some - it's taken over half a million of those young people out of poverty.

But since 2005, the problem has been getting worse again.

The latest figures show there are now just under four million young people living in the UK without enough money for basic things like enough clothes and food.

The borough of Islington is one of the poorest places in Britain.

At the same time there are examples of extreme wealth.

Multimillion pound properties stand minutes away from some of the most deprived estates in the UK.

Annie, 20, grew up on one of those estates.

"I've personally loved living on this estate all my life," she said.

"There are four of us, I've got two sisters and one brother, so obviously with that many kids my mum couldn't work all the time and things were hard."

She continued: "When you're younger your parents try not to expose you to those sorts of things.

"I'm aware of it a lot more now than I would have been, when I think of how tight things were".

Annie now helps out at a local youth club and says there's a lot of shame attached to being poor.

"No one wants to be pitied," she said. "It is hidden and it is hard to seek it out, but we do.

"I'm aware that a lot of the young people that I work with, sometimes, they only get the hot meal that we give them, otherwise they wouldn't get a hot meal that day."

Anthony and Annie
Anthony quizzes Annie about poverty in the capital

The End Child Poverty campaign says the upcoming budget is make or break for the government's child poverty target.

The organisation says that unless an extra £3 billion is given to help the poorest families, Labour will fail to halve child poverty by 2010.

Annie says people need help now more than ever.

"At the moment the price of food, the price of living is disgusting," she said.

"Half the people are struggling to survive as it is, and I think maybe the government should take that into consideration when working out the benefit system."

Revealed…What's London Really Like? is on BBC2, on April 18, at 1.45pm.



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