Charities' poverty challenge

Anti-poverty charities need to better communicate the realities of poverty if they are to succeed in breaking down negative perceptions, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has advised.

Underprivileged Aylesbury Estate, south east London, is often linked with poverty
Underprivileged Aylesbury Estate, south east London, is often linked with poverty

The JRF released research this week looking at how to build public support for action on UK poverty.

It found the public was illinformed about the income gap and how the taxation system worked. Most people were unaware of the obstacles to social mobility.

The public also had a negative view of people on benefits because it believed they would not make a contribution to society. However, this view changed once the public was presented with the facts.

The JRF said campaigners needed to highlight the contribution that some people on benefits, such as carers and volunteers, made to society.

Campaigners should demonstrate what it actually means to live in poverty, and explain why people are poor and the barriers that stop them from improving their situation.

UK Coalition Against Poverty national co-ordinator Eileen Devaney said case studies and life stories were a powerful weapon against poverty.

Crisis head of comms Phil Power agreed that case studies were a good way of getting people to understand what being poor really meant.

‘At Crisis we experience many misconceptions around poverty and in particular homelessness. To combat this we work hard to gather case studies enabling people to focus on the person – not their homelessness,’ said Power. ‘We have a very loyal supporter base and many volunteers. In our experience the  more we involve them in our work the more they understand homelessness can happen to anyone,’ he added.

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