How we tackle the problem of poverty depends on what we think causes poverty. Why do some people succeed while others don’t? From the perspective of public policy, poverty can either be seen as a result of one’s social circumstances, or their individual responsibility. Successive UK governments have put the emphasis on one of these two views to differing degrees over time.
How do you define poverty? Is it having nothing, or not enough to live on, or not enough to live well? It’s unclear from the start. Some might say they know poverty when they see it, but like homelessness poverty can be hidden from view. An uncomfortable secret that many don’t really want to acknowledge, people can structure their lives so it looks like they’re getting by, when actually they’re living hand to mouth without any security for the future.
Following Civil War in Syria, millions of Syrian nationals have fled the armed conflict. 8 million are displaced within Syria, forced to move and find new homes. 4 million have fled to neighbouring countries including Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. Around 350,000 Syrians have made the journey into Europe, to places such as Greece and Italy.
“Please Don’t Contribute to a Person’s Death” is the message of a poster campaign in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The ‘Alternative Giving’ campaign began on August 10th with posters featuring an image of a pair of hands empty and outstretched, the request not to shorten someone’s life superimposed over them.
We need to find better ways to help young people who are facing poverty and homelessness. It’s too easy to lump together people from different backgrounds and age groups who are experiencing homelessness, even though their situation is affected by different problems and factors. But rather than address the underlying factors of youth homelessness, they’re only being exacerbated by welfare cuts and a lack of understanding.
A homeless camp in Manchester has been shut down by the council after protesting for adequate housing. The group of approximately 30 rough sleepers and campaigners occupied three areas of the city centre in succession: first Albert Square, then St Peter’s Square and finally St Anne’s Square. Each time the town hall went to court to have the protesters evicted. The final time, the town hall secured an injunction preventing anyone from pitching a tent without permission in the entire city centre.
Is clutter overrunning your house? Do you use retail therapy to feel happy? Do you think “Not more stuff!” when you receive a present? If the answer to any of these is yes, you might be suffering from ‘stuffocation’. It’s a term coined by cultural forecaster James Wallman as well as the title of his book on the subject.
What’s the simplest solution to homelessness? Giving people homes. But surely it couldn’t be that simple! In order to give people who are homeless homes we would, after all, have to pay for them. We would also need to give people who are homeless a strong network of support to help them achieve self sufficiency and find or maintain employment.
On Wednesday the 8th of July George Osborne delivered the 2015 emergency budget, the first Conservative government budget in almost 20 years. The Conservatives had promised to cut the welfare budget by £12 billion. This has turned out to include cuts to housing benefit and tax credits.
Following nationwide protest against government austerity measures poverty and wealth inequality are very much on people’s minds. The government is continuing to cut housing benefits and in a recent speech David Cameron said he will be reducing work benefits, which will affect people who are homeless but working low wage or zero hours contract jobs.
In late April, changes to the Welsh Housing Act of 2014 were enacted which require authorities to take all reasonable actions to prevent people from becoming homeless. If someone is in danger of losing their home within 56 days, councils now have to make use of private rented accommodation where necessary and work with housing associations to keep that person off the streets.
Recently Oxford City Council made a proposal for a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) that would ban what the council defines as anti-social activities, including begging and rough sleeping. A PSPO places restrictions on activities in a specific area that are or may likely be detrimental to the community’s quality of life. Violating a PSPO is a criminal offence and can result in a fine of £100.
On Friday the 27th of February, the California state lawmaker introduced the Right to Rest Act to the State Senate. This means that California is one of four US states considering proposals aimed at ending the criminalization of homelessness.
At New Hope, religious values are the foundation of our work. We do our best to help those who are homeless, hungry, misunderstood or vulnerable because we regard all people as made in God’s image, as our brothers and sisters. Because God knows and cares for us intimately, whatever we do to other people, we do to Him. When we provide people with clothing, food or a place to stay when they need it, we give God a place in our hearts.