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

Praise for Leeds based charity Zarach after 1400 mattresses delivered to


A philanthropic teacher who has dedicated the last four years to combating ‘bed poverty’ in Leeds has helped to deliver mattresses, pillows and duvets to almost 1,400 desperate children. 

Deputy headteacher Rebekah Wilson, 33, from Leeds, established her charity Zarach in the city in 2017 after one of her pupils in an English class revealed he and his siblings had slept on the floor for months because they didn’t have a bed.

Another boy complained of not being able to concentrate after scratching his stomach. It was later revealed that the cushion he was using to sleep on was infested with bed bugs, causing him to itch throughout the school day.

Other pictures shared to the charity’s social media pages show one child’s bedroom without a carpet, covered in dust and clutter, while another pupil was moved out of her mother’s home due to fears her bedroom ceiling might collapse.

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

‘It’s not right that in 2021, in Britain, we have children that don’t have a bed,’ Rebekah told the BBC. 

‘Children are not going to get an education that can break that cycle, unless they’ve got a tummy full of food and a good night’s sleep. Not having a bed means they’re not going to have that starting point at all.

Deputy headteacher Rebekah Wilson, 33, from Leeds, (pictured) set up the Zarach in 2017 after one of her pupils revealed he and his siblings had slept on the floor for months because they didn't own a bed

Deputy headteacher Rebekah Wilson, 33, from Leeds, (pictured) set up the Zarach in 2017 after one of her pupils revealed he and his siblings had slept on the floor for months because they didn’t own a bed

Bex explains that school referrals are 'only ever increasing' and points to the fact she has delivered beds to every postcode in the Leeds area as evidence of the widespread impact of 'bed poverty' in the UK

 Bex explains that school referrals are ‘only ever increasing’ and points to the fact she has delivered beds to every postcode in the Leeds area as evidence of the widespread impact of ‘bed poverty’ in the UK

Rebekah explains that school referrals are ‘only ever increasing’ and points to the fact she has delivered beds to every postcode in the Leeds area as evidence of the widespread impact of ‘bed poverty’ in the UK.

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

She was determined to help other children living in destitute conditions, so set up Zarach, named after the Hebrew for ‘rising light’, in 2018. 

After contacting local bed businesses and getting some orders through, her father let use his business’ storage facilities for free to help get Zarach up and running. 

And after a full day of teaching at Shakespeare Primary School in Leeds, Rebekah gets behind the wheel of a van and delivers beds, mattresses, pyjamas and pillows to desperate families in the city during her free time in the evenings. 

She told the BBC: ‘All of us are only a couple of bad days, bad decisions or bad moments away from needing similar support to what we [Zarach] offer.

‘Sometimes people think you can’t just keep giving things out, we need to solve the problem. But whilst there are children sleeping on floors, bean bags, sofas or chairs, four or five sleeping on the same bed, we will continue giving out beds because that’s what they need.

‘It may look like it’s sticking a plaster on a really big problem, but that child still needs a bed, whatever the cause is.’

After a full day of teaching at a primary school in Leeds, Rebekah gets behind the wheel of a van and delivers beds, mattresses, pyjamas, pillows and more to desperate families in the city during her free time in the evenings

After a full day of teaching at a primary school in Leeds, Rebekah gets behind the wheel of a van and delivers beds, mattresses, pyjamas, pillows and more to desperate families in the city during her free time in the evenings

Rebekah was determined to help other children living in destitute conditions, so set up her charity Zarach, named after the Hebrew for 'to rise [as the sun]', in 2018

Rebekah was determined to help other children living in destitute conditions, so set up her charity Zarach, named after the Hebrew for ‘to rise [as the sun]’, in 2018

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

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

‘Whatever has happened beforehand that child, in that moment, if we don’t go and intervene that child will still be sleeping on the floor and that’s the difference that we try and make.’

Zarach’s efforts over the past four years have not gone unnoticed, with people taking to social media to praise the charity’s ‘life-changing work’. 

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

Another online commenter added of Zarach’s work: ‘Fabulous job everyone. Thought it’s sad that children are put in this situation’. 

Businesses have also got involved in supporting the team, with Mattress Online describing their pride at being able to support the ‘amazing’ charity. 

'Bed poverty', where a child doesn't have their own bed to sleep in, is an issue of growing concern that appears to be spreading rapidly across the UK. Above: A seven-year-old's bedroom in Leeds without carpet

‘Bed poverty’, where a child doesn’t have their own bed to sleep in, is an issue of growing concern that appears to be spreading rapidly across the UK. Above: A seven-year-old’s bedroom in Leeds without carpet

Leeds home broken ceiling

Leeds bedroom no carpet

Other pictures shared to the charity’s social media pages show one child’s bedroom without a carpet (right). Another pupil was moved out of her mother’s Leeds home due to fears her bedroom ceiling might collapse due to damp (left)

‘Bed poverty’, where a child doesn’t have their own bed to sleep in, is an issue of growing concern that appears to be spreading rapidly across the UK. 

Statistics from children’s charity Buttle UK show 30 per cent of families on low incomes struggled to afford beds for their children in 2020.

Applications for the organisation’s Chances for Children grants skyrocketed by 68 per cent in 2020/21. In all, Buttle UK provided 1,921 bedding items to struggling families at a cost of £448,409 this year.



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