The United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Professor Philip Alston, completed his 10 day visit in November by concluding that the UK's high child poverty rate was “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster, all rolled into one”. Our work campaigning for policies that will prevent and solve poverty, training and advising those who support hard-up families, and mounting legal challenges to protect people’s rights, is as vital as ever.
Welfare reform and its effects have rarely been out of the news in the past few years – and rightly so. But the focus of coverage is often on political arguments taking place at Westminster. It’s vital we hear from those directly affected by the changes to social security, and from those who work with and support them. There is a wealth of experience to be learned from people on the front line.
In our Christmas appeal this year we mentioned Helen*, who we met at our food bank project in Tower Hamlets. Our advice helped Helen and her family get the financial support they needed. But we shouldn’t have met Helen in those circumstances. She shouldn’t have had to go to the food bank in the first place.