In the dank and mulchy winter chill
Slump the sunken cheeks of England’s child.
One who danced to school and dawdled home
Now sits hunched, her eyes both wide and wild.
How to hold her dignity and faith
Now she hides her shoes in sleeping bags,
Frightened of the faceless few who come
Late at night to look for clothes and fags.
Once she had a teddy and a home,
Tried to learn her lessons, do her best,
But, like all of us, she made mistakes.
Hers were not forgiven like the rest.
Where to go when daddy shuts you out?
Who to tell when mummy lifts her hand?
What to do when gifts from those you trust
Become code for sexual demands?
Better: in the tunnel by the tube.
Better: disregarded and alone.
Better: facing danger on the streets
Than to suffer in your so-called home.
Children sleep on sofas and in tents
Scared of shelters they have never seen,
Told of dirty rooms and scary folk,
Kept from help by those who’ve never been.
Many were in care: a safety net,
Where they tried to build themselves a space.
But their eighteenth birthday marked a change:
Leave and work. A new child needs your place.
Now our girl has been let down too often.
England’s child has got nowhere to shower.
Snuggles down inside her cardboard coffin,
Colder every minute, every hour.