HUNDREDS of thousands of children in the North East are trapped in a cycle of poverty, new figures show.
According to new statistics, around 200,000 children in the region are now existing in severely poverty-stricken conditions, without enough food to eat or clothes to keep warm.
The damning findings show a huge increase from 2010, when 73,000 children were living in extreme hardship.
Working families are also being drawn into poverty, campaigners say, because of the large number of people in part-time and low-paid jobs.
The news comes as the number of breakfast clubs and food banks rise across the region in an attempt to reduce the number of children living on the breadline.
Many children in the North East are forced to miss regular hot meals, go without warm coats or new shoes and are suffering enormous emotional strain.
In a report mapping child poverty the charity shows how Newcastle has one of the highest levels with 31% of children living in poverty.
In Gateshead 25% of children live in poverty, 28% in South Tyneside, 21% in North Tyneside, 26% in Sunderland and 22% in Durham.
The statistics show that the lowest proportion of children living in hardship is in Northumberland at 18%.
Last night Graham Whitham, poverty adviser for the UK at Save the Children, said the North East was falling behind the rest of the country when it came to jobs and the economy.
He said: “Areas in the North East have got real problems with children’s poverty and people in the area are really suffering in terms of job loses and public spending cuts.
“The reality is that poverty in places like Newcastle is becoming more acute. Hardship is becoming greater and poverty is becoming worse for more people.
“We really need the Government to recognise the challenges people face. The North of England as a whole is being left behind.