Praise for Leeds-based charity Zarach after 1,400 mattresses delivered to tackle bed poverty

A philanthropic teacher who has been committed to tackling “bed poverty” in Leeds for the past four years has helped provide mattresses, pillows and duvets to nearly 1,400 distressed children.

Deputy Headmistress Rebekah Wilson, 33, of Leeds, founded her Zarach charity in the city in 2017 after one of her students revealed in an English class that he and his siblings had slept on the floor for months because they had no bed.

Another boy complained about not being able to concentrate after scratching his stomach. It was later found that the pillow he lay on to sleep on was infected with bed bugs, which made him itchy all day at school.

Other images shared on the charity’s social media pages show a carpeted child’s bedroom covered in dust and clutter while another high school student escaped from her mother’s house, fearing that her bedroom ceiling might collapse was relocated.

These were just a handful of the many heartbreaking stories that spurred the benevolent teacher into action.

“It is not right that we have children in the UK in 2021 who have no beds,” Rebekah told the BBC.

“Children will not get an education that can break this cycle unless they have a stomach full of food and a good night’s sleep. Not having a bed means they won’t have that starting point at all.

Deputy Headmistress Rebekah Wilson, 33, from Leeds (pictured) founded the Zarach in 2017 after one of her students revealed that he and his siblings had slept on the floor for months because they didn't have a bed

Deputy Headmistress Rebekah Wilson, 33, from Leeds (pictured) founded the Zarach in 2017 after one of her students revealed that he and his siblings had slept on the floor for months because they didn’t have a bed

Bex explains that referrals from schools

Bex explains that referrals from schools “keep increasing” and points out that she has delivered beds to every zip code in the Leeds area as evidence of the widespread impact of “bed poverty” in the UK

Rebekah explains that referrals from schools “keep increasing” and points out that she has delivered beds to every zip code in the Leeds area as evidence of the widespread impact of “bed poverty” in the UK.

She recalls being in the middle of an English class teaching elementary school students about irregular tense verbs when she was confronted with news that some of her students were not being provided with adequate sleeping accommodations.

“I realized I had a choice; to be satisfied that I teach him grammar because I get paid to do it, or to continue to be the best teacher I can be, while using my time and influence to ensure that every child in our town has their basic needs got to know each other, slept well and has equal opportunities.

Instead of joining the growing number of voices complaining about child poverty and the lack of support for children without beds, she decided to do something about it.

Determined to help other poor children, Rebekah founded Zarach in 2018, named after the Hebrew for “rising light”.

After her father contacted the local bedding stores and received orders, her father made his company’s storage rooms available free of charge to get Zarach up and running.

And after a full day of classes at Shakespeare Primary School in Leeds, Rebekah sits behind the wheel of a van and in her spare time delivers beds, mattresses, pajamas and pillows to desperate families in the city.

She told the BBC: “We are all just a few bad days, bad decisions or bad moments away from needing support like us [Zarach] Offer.

“Sometimes people think you can’t just pass it on, we have to solve the problem. But while there are children who sleep on floors, bean bags, couches or chairs who sleep four or five in the same bed, we will continue to distribute beds because they need that.

“It may look like a band-aid is stuck on a really big problem, but that kid still needs a bed, whatever the cause.

“Whatever happened before, that kid, at that moment, if we don’t intervene, the kid will still be sleeping on the floor and that’s the difference we’re trying to make.”

A particularly shocking image of the run-down bedroom of a seven-year-old child with a small bed, no carpet and little other furnishings remains with her.

On a fundraising post shared earlier this year, Bex wrote, “I’ve heard many stories about the journey to this zero level of the poverty crisis. It’s never a choice.

“Every story has one thing in common: a child with broken parents struggling to make ends meet, and by that I often mean the choice between food or gas and electricity, as is the case with the mother of the cot Photo . ‘

After a full day of classes at an elementary school in Leeds, Rebekah gets behind the wheel of a van and in her spare time in the evenings, she delivers beds, mattresses, pajamas, pillows and more to desperate families in the city

After a full day of classes at an elementary school in Leeds, Rebekah gets behind the wheel of a van and in her spare time in the evenings, she delivers beds, mattresses, pajamas, pillows and more to desperate families in the city

Determined to help other poor children, Rebekah founded her charity, Zarach, which is named after the Hebrew for

Determined to help other poor children, Rebekah started her charity, Zarach, named after the Hebrew for “resurrect” [as the sun]’, in 2018

Instead of joining the growing number of voices complaining about child poverty and the lack of support for children without beds, she decided to do something about it

Instead of joining the growing number of voices complaining about child poverty and the lack of support for children without beds, she decided to do something about it

Since its inception in 2017, Zarach has managed to raise tens of thousands of pounds to fight child poverty in Leeds.

And their efforts over the past four years have not gone unnoticed, as people on social media praise the charity’s “life changing work”.

Kavitha Madhurt wrote: “We take our beds and a good night’s sleep for granted … Thanks Zarach for raising awareness that even in the UK not all children have this!”

Another online commenter added Zarach’s work, “Fabulous work everyone. I thought it was sad that children were being put in this situation. ‘

Companies have also joined in helping the team, with Mattress Online describing their pride in supporting the “amazing” charity.

'Bed poverty', in which a child does not have their own bed to sleep in, is a growing concern that seems to be spreading rapidly across the UK.  Above: A seven year old's bedroom in Leeds with no carpets

‘Bed poverty’, in which a child does not have their own bed to sleep in, is a growing concern that seems to be spreading rapidly across the UK. Above: A seven year old’s bedroom in Leeds with no carpets

Statistics from the children's charity Buttle UK show that 30 percent of low-income families had difficulties affording beds for their children in 2020

Statistics from the children’s charity Buttle UK show that 30 percent of low-income families had difficulties affording beds for their children in 2020

Leeds home broken ceiling

Leeds bedroom no carpet

Other images shared on the charity’s social media pages show a child’s bedroom without a carpet (right). Another schoolgirl was relocated from her mother’s home in Leeds because she was concerned that her bedroom ceiling could collapse due to moisture (left)

‘Bed poverty’, in which a child does not have their own bed to sleep in, is a growing concern that seems to be spreading rapidly across the UK.

Statistics from the children’s aid organization Buttle UK show that 30 percent of low-income families had difficulties in finding beds for their children in 2020.

Applications for the organization’s Chances for Children scholarships rose 68 percent in 2020/21. In total, Buttle UK provided 1,921 bed linen to needy families this year at a cost of £ 448,409.

Zarach's efforts over the past four years have not gone unnoticed, and people use social media to praise the charity's “life changing work”.

Zarach’s efforts over the past four years have not gone unnoticed, and people use social media to praise the charity’s “life changing work”.

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