Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Nothing About Us, Without Us, Is For Us

During this General Election Campaign we have heard people living in poverty referred to as scroungers and cheats, and it has been inferred that they are not from, or are somehow fundamentally different from, ‘hard-working families’.  We have also heard that in the UK, one of the richest countries in the world, people were compelled by poverty to use food banks on more than one million occasions in the last year.

Rarely have we heard from people who actually understand poverty, who know what it means to have to choose between putting money in the gas meter or having breakfast in the morning.  We are encouraged to stereotype in one way or another; to blame or to pity - to see people as part of the problem rather than as part of the solution. We are missing out on a wealth of wisdom. It does not have to be this way.

At the Poverty Truth Commission we work differently.  We believe that people experiencing poverty must be at the heart of any strategy designed to overcome it.  We believe that we must listen to and respect each others’ opinions.  That we must take the time to learn what it is like to walk in each other’s shoes.  And that is what we do.  As a Commission we have left our labels and titles at the door and are discovering what it means to say together that nothing about us, without us, is for us.

Therefore, we call on government, the media, political parties and each one of us to stop the culture of blame in this election campaign and in the future.  We challenge you to seek, and to listen to the voices of our poorest citizens as a crucial first step to overcoming poverty and figuring out how to build a better society.