Make UK Poverty History

Why is it that in the fifth richest country in the world, poverty continues to blight the lives of far too many people?

The plain fact is that too many have failed to share in our increased prosperity as a nation.  Too many miss out on the opportunities that come with that prosperity ��� too many do not share the life chances which prosperity should bring.

To be poor in a rich country like the UK is not the same as being poor in Africa.  Poverty may be much less ���in your face���, but let no one deceive you into believing that it is not therefore any less ���real.���  The words below are as true today as when they were spoken at the Church Action on Poverty���s first National Poverty Hearing, ten years ago in 1996:

"What is poverty?  Poverty is a battle of invisibility, a lack of resources, exclusion, powerlessness... being blamed for society's problems"  

However affluent and economically successful this country becomes there is always one group or another that is left out. New forms of poverty continually arise, and new groups of people are left out, or shut out.

According to Sheila, who attended a Church Action on Poverty policy forum on debt: ���At the moment I���m on income support and child benefit. I���ve used the Provvy and Shopacheck and I���ve been unable to keep paying them so I don���t do that no more. Now I have to buy from shoplifters so I have money to look after myself.���

The costs of poverty bear most heavily on the lives of those who live with it day in day out.  But the truth is that poverty costs us all.  Not just by diminishing our common humanity, but in hard economic and social terms, in lower educational standards and lower aspiration, in higher crime and higher health bills, in stress and mental illness, in family breakdown and community breakdown, we all bear the cost of poverty.

The success of Make Poverty History was in helping us all the believe the impossible ��� to raise our aspirations to make global poverty history ��� and to mobilise public opinion to put pressure on our political leaders to deliver the policies which will help to bring this goal nearer.  Of course, the battle to Make Poverty History goes on ��� but now the challenge is to focus our attention much closer to home ��� and to believe in the equally noble and urgent task of making UK poverty history.

Read more about Church Action on Poverty's Just Church programme here.

Just Church is also the theme for Poverty Action Sunday on 18 February 2008.

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