The programme airs the hopes and fears of Europeans living in the region. And tracking the County Durham vet working to save hundreds of street dogs far from home.
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In the next half an hour:
The North East families struggling to keep warm,
where the cost of fuel isn't just a burning issue for Mum and Dad.
The first thing she says to me on a morning -
"Mammy, can we have toast today, or do we have to have cereal cos
there's no electric left?"
A four year old shouldn't know that.
They shouldn't have to worry about it.
As we prepare to put the 'exit' into Brexit,
what's to become of the Europeans who've made this part
of Britain their home?
People are sort of scared.
They just don't know what's going to happen.
And they might feel a bit more unwelcome since the referendum vote.
We meet the young County Durham vet determined to bring love,
care and attention to some of the world's most neglected dogs.
I cry on probably a daily basis, actually, if I'm honest.
It's the hardest thing I've ever done, but it gives me
the most amazing sense of fulfilment,
I love it.
I'm Chris Jackson, and this is Inside Out.
We've already had the first of this winter's cold snaps,
but not everyone can just whack up the heat.
For some families, it's a stark choice between heating or eating.
One in five North East children live in a home with fuel poverty.
Kirsten O'Brien has been finding out just how tough that can be
and what help is out there.
Good morning, Mr Blake.
I'm appointed to carry out assessments for Employment
and Support Allowance...
The stark portrayal of North East families in poverty,
as told in Ken Loach's 'I, Daniel Blake',
continues to move audiences.
I've got about 12 quid in my purse!
D'you know what, you've created a scene, all right?
Who's first in this queue?
Do you mind if this young lass signs on first?
No, no, you carry on.
This isn't your concern...
So this is where one of the key scenes in the film
happened, isn't it?
I met Dave Johns, who plays Daniel Blake, at the Western
food bank in Newcastle.
It's the busiest food bank in Europe, helping up
to a thousand people a week.
I mean, I haven't been back since we did it.
You've done nothing to be ashamed of.
You're alone with two kids.
This is tangible, isn't it?
You can help out, you can dump something in your
supermarket in a box.
Fuel poverty, do you think people were aware that was happening?
There's a scene in the film where Dan helps them
to heat their home, you know.
He has, like, little plant pots and little tea lights that he does.
It takes a while, but it will take the chill off the room.
And if you just put your hand over there now, you'll feel it.
If you've got to choose between feeding yourself
or heating your home, I mean, to have those choices,
it shouldn't be happening, you know.
We should be ashamed of ourselves that we're not doing
something to help, you know.
100,000 children are living in fuel poverty in the North East.
That's one in five of our children.
It's totally unacceptable.
Fuel poverty is the inability to pay for your fuel bills and have
adequate warmth in the home.
We don't live, we exist day to day.
Jacqui and Michael Turnbull live in Sacriston.
Michael works as a security guard at Durham University,
and Jacqui is a student and full-time mum.
There's been times where we haven't been able to borrow and we've had
no gas and electric.
We've had to send the bairns to their Nana's, until we've got
gas and electric on.
Are you just sitting in the dark?
What are you doing?
Yeah, we just sit in the dark.
We just basically put blankets on, bring blankets down.
She normally sits with her dressing gown on.
I love my dressing gown!
Overcoat, erm, just to try and keep warm until we get that money.
Michael, it sounds like you're doing everything
that you can but, still, somehow, it's not enough.
It's depressing because it's hard, because you're trying to provide
for your family and it just gets to the stage where
you just can't do it.
It's just the worst feeling, knowing that you can't
provide for your family and that you've got to go beg
somebody to provide for you.
It shouldn't be like that.
It's like something from the Victorian times.
Do you think the kids are aware of this?
Do you think they understand?
Yes, my little girl definitely does.
My little boy doesn't, but Daisy does.
I mean, the first thing she says to me on a morning -
"Mammy, can we have toast today, or do we have to have cereal cos
there's no electric left?"
A four year old shouldn't know that, they shouldn't
have to worry about it.
The problem is now so bad that in parts of our region,
people in cold homes are being routinely issued
with emergency blankets and heaters, just to get them
through the winter months.
And that help is coming from a surprising source.
We've got children's blankets, little thermal blankets,
to help keep children warm.
Rather than putting out fires, Cleveland Fire Rescue
are delivering them.
It's funded by councils across Teesside and began
after a four-year-old girl died in a house fire at Loftus.
Her family had been using candles, as their power had been cut off.
We've come across a lot of residents where, unfortunately,
they don't have any lights.
They have candles, they've got no heating in the property.
We've just received, through Stay Safe and Warm, a referral.
Six people in the property with a four-day-old baby.
The father's just recently been made redundant from the steel works,
so we're going round.
He's got a broken boiler, struggling to afford to get that
fixed, and also struggling to heat his property up.
There are incidences of things like toasters being used,
or the grills on cookers being used to actually heat homes.
And whilst they may be more cost effective,
they're certainly not safer.
Mandy Smith lives in Spennymoor.
She ran into debt after the man she shared her house with died.
So will you just talk me through how you survived last year?
What did you do?
I put these on.
And that's how I used to be.
Did your friends know what was going on?
You know, your neighbours, were they aware of what was happening?
I don't think they would because a lot of people,
they won't say anything to their neighbours.
Like I did, kept it to myself.
People out there who don't understand anybody's situation,
they call you scroungers, and I didn't want to
be in that category.
Down the road, in Darlington, the Salvation Army are reaching out
to people in Mandy's situation.
We're storing 200 sleeping bags.
There were 300, but we've gone through 100 already.
Who are they for?
They're for people who have to choose between eating and heating
the place that they live in.
And it's cold, and they just can't afford to heat their accommodation.
It makes me feel sad that in 21st-Century England,
we have people who are freezing, people who need a sleeping
bag just to stay alive.
In Durham, there's a new scheme - organised through the county's
network of 27 food banks - to provide longer-term
solutions to fuel poverty.
It came about because we found that people who were coming to the food
bank weren't just in crisis for food, they also
needed money for energy.
And in some cases, couldn't even cook the food that we gave them
because they had no gas or electric.
We are able to put them forward for a voucher,
so they've then got fuel to be able to heat and cook the food
that we give them.
The vouchers ? which only work with pre-payment meters -
are worth ?49 in the winter and 30 in the summer.
When they turned around and said, "Look, we can give you ?49
for your electric," I cried and said, "How do I pay it back?
I'm not with that company."
And they explained.
They said, "No, it's a gift.
You don't pay it back."
That heating voucher...
Oh, that was good, very good.
And I'd advise anybody out there, anybody,
if they're struggling, please go and get help.
But in our region, the scheme just operates in County Durham,
Redcar and Barrow.
That's because only one energy supplier, Npower,
is prepared to fund the vouchers, leaving thousands of
others out in the cold.
To really scale it up nationally, it needs more than one power
company to be doing it, so I think it would be
fantastic if the other major players got involved.
So, will others follow suit?
I've come to swanky St James's in London,
to the offices of Energy UK, which represents all
the major energy suppliers.
Audrey, I've met families that have been really helped by this
fuel voucher scheme, but only Npower are
running it, why is that?
Well, all companies will have different initiatives in place
to try and help their customers, people that are struggling.
So, trust funds help to buy new appliances, pay off debts.
So Npower is doing this scheme on a voluntary basis,
to help not just its own, but all customers.
I think there's about 30 across the country now.
It's something that we should definitely look at because if it
works, then you want to make sure that as many people as possible
are getting the help that they need.
So I'll be encouraging all the members
in the UK to look at it.
Well, it would seem the industry is prepared to listen, then.
And perhaps the fuel voucher scheme will be rolled out further.
But still, across the North East this winter, thousands of children
will be spending many cold nights in fuel-poor homes.
Have you ever had to face a fuel bill you couldn't pay,
and what did you do?
Why not let me know?
You'll find me on Twitter.
Or why not email me?
Details are on the screen now.
Still to come: The County Durham vet rescuing Sri Lanka's street dogs.
When Theresa May set out the UK's stall for Brexit last week,
one group of people here in the North East and Cumbria
were listening particularly hard.
Now, our region voted overwhelmingly in favour of leaving,
but what does that mean for the tens of thousands of Europeans who've
made this their home?
We asked Peter Barron - the former Editor of
the Northern Echo - to go behind the
headlines to find out.
This is the council estate where I grew up.
This is South Bank, a suburb of Middlesbrough.
My dad worked at Dorman Long, just over there.
But it's the collapse of those traditional industries
in the North East such as steel and the impact that that's had
on local communities that's been put forward as one of the reasons ehy
on local communities that's been put forward as one of the reasons why
Britain voted to leave the EU.
SHE SPEAKS POLISH
But what does that mean for Europeans building
a new life in the North East?
Magda moved here from Poland 12 years ago.
She's a reporter for an internet news service based in Newcastle.
Today's topic: Brexit.
She said because the life in Poland was very hard,
it was very difficult to make a living in Poland.
The children, they speak better English than Polish.
And she was just saying that she's sort of scared that
if she would have to go back to Poland, it would be very
difficult for her kids.
People are sort of scared.
They just don't know what's going to happen.
Have you come across examples where people have
been treated badly because of Brexit?
A Polish lady who was on the bus just after the Brexit,
and somebody heard her speaking Polish and they set
her hair on fire.
What's your experience with Polish migrants?
Ian Fitzgerald is carrying out research into the rise in hate crime
against Poles since the Brexit vote.
People were losing their jobs and people then started to blame
Polish people in work.
You know, and what Brexit has done, it has allowed some of this
to really come out in the open.
I mean, it's very sad.
Polish people bring the UK money.
They pay taxes, they work.
Others say the biggest concern is the uncertainty
about their right to stay.
Last week, Theresa May confirmed there'll be no guarantees
I'm worried about Polish people who recently came to this country.
Because some of them, obviously, they start a new life.
They look for the new perspectives in life.
They found a job, they're renting a flat.
And now they don't know what's going to happen to them.
Where do you consider home to be now?
I would definitely say England - in particular, Newcastle -
because this is where I've got my family, my
friends, my businesses.
And this is where I hope to stay for the rest of my life.
Magda is one of around 50,000 people living in the North East born
in another country inside the EU.
That's fewer than 2% of the population.
That includes thousands who've moved
here from Romania in the ten years since it joined the EU.
Among them, Mihai Firescu, a junior doctor at James Cook
Hospital in Middlesbrough.
Have you enjoyed it here?
Oh, yeah, yeah!
People are lovely.
Everybody calls you 'love', don't they?
You go in a Starbucks and they're like, "How are you, love?
Are you OK?"
Everybody calls you 'pet' as well.
That's a new one!
Erm, the Geordie lasses are amazing.
Yeah, just incredible.
They're so much fun!
And do you feel accepted?
Oh, yeah, definitely.
And has that changed at all since the vote in June?
No, not really.
All my British friends, basically, are a bit embarrassed talking
about it when they see me.
My family are really concerned about me being here
because of Brexit now.
They think that I'm alienated from the society, but it's
totally not the case.
Well, his family back home in Romania may be worried about him,
but as far as Mihai Firescu is concerned, it's just
business as usual.
Saving lives here in the North East of England.
And, of course, not forgetting those Geordie girls!
Mihai is one of 13,000 EU-born nationals to move
here in the last five years.
That's an increase of 35%.
How are you?
Very well, very well.
Thank you very much.
Can I just ask, what are you cooking here?
Ah, it's the Polish sausages.
They are the best ones.
Meet Lukasz and Dominika, from Poland, a married
couple with a real taste for life in Darlington.
They moved here eleven years ago and both have good jobs.
When you're starting being so involved in the community
and you love it here, you start meeting new people.
I was awarded 'Outstanding Pole' in England, Wales and North Ireland.
So, basically, that award was because of my involvement
in the work which I am doing for the local community.
And I couldn't help noticing that there are other Polish
delicacies on the table.
So tell me, what have we got here?
On this plate, we've got, like, Polish and English biscuits.
Actually, it's like us living in England.
Living side by side.
I love it!
I know, they are a really delicious mixture.
And what about these sweets?
Can I try this one?
Of course you can...
But not before the sausage!
Tonight, Dominika and Lukasz are out with the Round Table,
helping collect money for good causes across Darlington.
When you knock on the doors, are people ever sort
of surprised that you're Polish?
They don't really, you know, never mention about that, you know.
I feel like a part of the community.
And there was even a warm message from some Brexit voters
for Lukasz and Dominika, and people like them.
It was more of a protest against our political
system at the minute.
The MPs, Parliament, everything.
You don't know who to trust.
And I have no problems with people in Europe transferring
between the countries because I think that's a good thing,
because if they're coming to work, they're coming to work.
It doesn't matter where you're from.
Well, what a lovely couple!
It seems to me that Lukasz and Dominika are the perfect example
of people from an EU country who've come to a place like Darlington,
made it their home, got so involved in the local community.
They consider themselves lucky to live in a place like Darlington.
I actually think Darlington is pretty lucky that they live here.
Angel started this shop just three weeks before the Brexit vote.
TRANSLATION: I think people need to discover products specific
to each country and I think England is open to that.
I think England is the best, and we could bring even
more produce to the UK.
Angel is relaxed about the impact of Brexit, but his partner says
there have been downsides for a business that
imports all its products.
Before opening the shop, the value of the pound was very
high and, after Brexit, the pound was lower.
Has that had a big impact, then?
Big impact in the pound, yes.
?5, it's fine.
Newcastle gave me the opportunity to start up and grow this business.
This is my home town now.
And it's likely to remain that way.
But we Brits are demanding controls on the numbers of EU
citizens moving here.
And in her big speech last week, that's what the Prime Minister
said she has in store.
It's been fascinating talking to so many people who've
settled in the North East from European countries.
A lot of it's been heart-warming.
Some of it sad.
Some of it a little bit disturbing at times.
But I'll just leave with an appreciation of just how
much these people bring to the North East in
so many different ways.
We're a nation of dog lovers, but one young North East vet
decided her skills would be of much more use in a country where the dogs
really have no-one to love them.
At just 26, Janey Lowes left her home here in Barnard Castle
for Sri Lanka, to care for their desperately
neglected street dogs.
She's made a real impact over there and here at home.
There are about three million street dogs,
but because there's so many dogs, there's also a lot of sick dogs.
Dogs in states that I never thought was possible.
Two years ago, Janey Lowes left her Barnard Castle home behind
to bring her skills as a vet to Sri Lanka's street dogs.
These dogs have no-one.
You know, they have not a soul in the world to look out for them.
She'd holidayed on the island, but decided she had
to do something to help.
They could end up dying, potentially, from a
tiny wound this big.
No vets in place to treat these street animals.
I feel like all of these dogs are my dogs and I'm the only one
to look after them really.
So she has names for all of them.
Badger was in a real state.
He had really bad skin and he'd started to chew his foot off,
but it was filled with maggots, it was a bit grotty.
He actually hated us right at the start and wouldn't
come close to us at all.
Treating dogs out on the street is a challenge.
When Badger is spotted again, he's still wearing his bandage.
The signs are looking good.
On a daily basis, we sort of get in a tuktuk and go out on the roads
and see what we can see, if there'se any problems.
and see what we can see, if there's any problems.
A lot of dogs with mange, so we treat them.
We see a lot of dogs that have been hit by cars.
We get them in and treat them as well.
I'm trying to fix animals that are almost beyond fixing,
with very little equipment.
We don't have X-ray, we don't have ultrasound,
we don't have gas anaesthetic.
We have to sort of piece everything together and try and make it work.
We're at the hospital, so come on in.
She's built up a real team.
This is Charminda, our tuktuk driver.
And has a big dream.
So it's not very exciting at the moment.
It's just a small primary school.
But one day, we have really big dreams for this place.
So it's going to be a fully-equipped clinic,
So it's going to be a fully-equipped clinic, with X-ray, ultrasound, etc.
So, Malaka was a builder, but he's a dog lover.
Malaka, how long have you worked with us?
One and a half years.
Yeah, one and a half years.
He's been our rock.
There isn't such a thing as a vet nurse in Sri Lanka.
My aim was to make Malaka the first vet nurse.
We supplement those guys by bringing in UK and Australian volunteers
as well, so mostly vets and vet nurses.
But they come in for anywhere between two weeks and six months.
It's not just about treating sick dogs, but reducing their numbers.
Neutering clinics are great.
On those, we neuter about 250 dogs in four days, between four vets.
We've really noticed it in the last year,
there are so many less puppies on the street.
So we feel like we're really having an impact there.
There's no shortage of street dogs needing attention.
Rosie was paralysed by a car and was taken
in by a kind local family.
But charging for treatment in a poor country is difficult,
so Janey has to return to the UK to make ends meet.
You're feeling very sorry for yourself, aren't you?
Sri Lanka is cheap to live, but I did 18 months with no salary,
so I've had to come back, earn a little bit of money,
then I'm going straight back there to spend it all again!
It's a chance to use proper equipment again.
She's doing shifts at her old vets practice in County Durham,
who are behind her all the way.
Janey's set up a charity to secure the future of the Sri Lanka project.
Colleagues and friends are helping to organise a fundraising ball.
And in a few spare moments, she can spend quality
time with her own dog, Finn.
It is absolutely heartbreaking to leave him behind.
I know he's being really well cared for with my mum,
but he is my sidekick.
He's been my sidekick for the last 11 years.
If he knew what I was doing, he'd be proud, so that's
what keeps me going when he's not with me.
Back in warmer Sri Lankan waters, Rosie is getting hydrotherapy
and Janey has managed to get some movement into her
paralysed back legs.
Badger's bandage didn't stop his wound from becoming infected again,
but he's learned to trust Janey and the team.
He's very food-orientated, so we could bribe him with anything.
So we stood there with some buns from the bakery while we picked
maggots out of his wound, and he just let us do it
like this, so he was great.
We make a point of returning dogs back to the streets.
They are missing healthcare, they're missing affection,
but they're not missing freedom.
And actually, that's the one thing they've got in life,
and I endeavour to make sure they have that.
You know, I do not believe in putting them in a shelter.
It's like prison to them.
So we treat them, we put them back.
Some locals are curious as to why you'd help a street dog at all.
Sri Lankan people are lovely, but there are people
who would see dogs as vermin, so we do see a lot of cruelty,
extreme cruelty as well.
You'll have boiling water thrown over you.
You'll have all sorts of things thrown at you,
and it's just brutal.
They just don't understand because they've never been taught,
and that's something we would love to change as well.
60% of puppies born on the street don't survive to adulthood.
These two limp and weak puppies were covered in fleas and lice,
but with treatment and TLC, Holly and Bertie have grown up none
the wiser of how they beat the odds.
But Janey's love of dogs is put to the very worst test.
Back home, Finn has developed cancer.
We thought we might get a good few months out of him,
but we actually only got about three weeks.
After the three weeks, he started to bleed from the liver
tumour and I decided it wasn't really fair.
So it was very tough.
Just now, with everything that I'm going to do,
it's just to make him proud.
The fundraising was now even more important.
Enjoy your night.
Thank you so, so much for coming, thank you for making the effort.
And, yeah, have fun, and we'll speak to you a little bit later on.
I set 'We Care' up in 2014 after witnessing the plight of these
street dogs over here.
Since then, it has grown massively.
We now have over 20 staff members.
Saving one dog will not change the world, but for that one dog,
the world will be forever changed.
I think she's a very determined, very conscientious young woman,
and very gutsy to go out there and do that.
Young people are prepared to give up so much of their life
in order to go away from their family, their friends.
They're giving up a heck of a lot of their life in order to do
something on behalf of animals.
I think it's a fantastic thing.
You should care about dogs everywhere.
It's not exclusive to where you're from.
On Tyneside, donations of much-needed equipment are piling up,
but that is a financial headache.
It is amazing to have all this stuff.
So we'e got ultrasound in there, we've got gas anesthetic.
So that will be the second gas anesthetic in Sri Lanka,
it'll be the first scanner in Sri Lanka.
However, we ve got it stuck in England because it costs us
about ?2,500 to ship it over there.
Now back in Sri Lanka, the clinic is starting to take shape.
Doodle just had an amputation a few days ago.
But funds don't yet stretch to shipping that donated
equipment from the UK.
This is the theatre, so this is my home.
So all you need from a surgical theatre is a clean area,
so that's all we have here.
One day, we will have all the mod cons.
They're all in the container in the UK.
But we'll set up, ready to go when those do arrive.
Ambition and determination know no bounds and Finn
would be proud of her.
Janey has been named 'Vet of the Year' in the Animal Hero Awards.
And her patients continue to thrive.
Rosie is improving.
She's walking again.
She's not doing it all the time, she does get a little bit lazy
and drag her bum around from time to time when it's a bit faster but,
yeah, she's so much better than she was.
Badger has been transformed.
It's the hardest thing I've ever done, but it gives me
the most amazing sense of fulfillment,
I love it!
It's the dogs that have spurred me on.
Seeing the dogs in that state, I think, I have to be bloody good.
I have to be the best I can be.
She's quite an inspiration!
If you want to know more about Janey and her work,
then check out our Facebook page.
But what have we got in store next week?
The Lake District farmers who say they're being cold-shouldered
by their landlord, the National Trust.
I'll see you next Monday.
Till then, from Barnard Castle, goodnight.
Ahead of Brexit talks, we hear the hopes and fears of Europeans living in the north east, and track the County Durham vet working to save hundreds of street dogs far from home.