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Why bother Challenging Poverty?

This opinion piece is over 7 years old

Susan Smith would rather be considered a moaning leftie than collaborate with injustice

Moaning lefties are embarrassing losers whose failure to turn capitalism to their advantage means that they will never succeed, someone told me this week.

If that is the case, how do we stop 20% of the population growing up in poverty, I asked? Keeping quiet isn’t going to stop people turning up at foodbanks because they can’t feed their kids.

This week it’s Challenge Poverty Week, designed to remind people that severe poverty is a bigger problem in our society that many would like to believe.

Compassion has lost out to a survival of the fittest instinct – if you’re not born able and resilient, why should the rest of us help you out?

We’ve learned that fuel poverty killed more Scots last winter than it has since the turn of the century. We’ve also discovered that although a quarter of Scots believe people in poverty are lazy only 6% of them believe benefits should be cut.

That’s all very well, I can hear my friend say, but what practical action is happening to change anything.

Well, one example, is that a group of food poverty charities have come together to announce Scotland’s first foodbank taskforce.

It aims to highlight what is working, what needs to change and what the Scottish Government and others can do to bring about a hunger free Scotland.

It’s understandable following the overwhelming election of a right-wing Conservative Government at Westminster earlier this year that some are feeling disillusioned. In British society it sometimes feels like compassion has lost out to a survival of the fittest instinct – if you’re not born able and resilient, why should the rest of us help you out?

The truth is left-wing right-wing dichotomy sounds a little embarrassingly 20th century these days anyway. Neither extreme works. On one level it seems like the right-wing has won, but then alternative voices and campaigns rise up every day on social media.

It is a relief to me that activities such as Challenge Poverty Week continue to highlight that the current political system is not good enough. We need to hear about injustice and we need to articulate new, better solutions.

I am optimistic that our society will become fairer in the future, but we will not achieve that by either stopping moaning or collaborating with a broken system.



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