What is poverty? Funny you should ask.
According to the Joesph Rowntree Foundation “poverty is when your resources are well below your minimum needs”. They state that “Poverty affects millions of people in the UK. Poverty means not being able to heat your home, pay your rent, or buy the essentials for your children. It means waking up every day facing insecurity, uncertainty, and impossible decisions about money. It means facing marginalisation – and even discrimination – because of your financial circumstances. The constant stress it causes can lead to problems that deprive people of the chance to play a full part in society.”
So poverty is not just being on benefits. Poverty is not just living on a council estate. Poverty is everywhere. Your next door neighbours who work forty plus hours a week, they can’t be living in poverty, no? well actually maybe they are. They are living in one of the worst cases of poverty. The one were they work their fingers to the bone to pay their mortgage, put food on the table and support their children, yet at the end of the month they don’t have two pennies to rub together for even a slight treat. That is the kind of poverty that is destroying families and people’s lives.
Poverty is one of the main factors that is causing an increase in illnesses such as mental health and obesity. The worry of not knowing if you can pay your rent from one month to the next is seriously affecting individual’s mental health and is a clear reason why mental health issues and suicide rates are on the rise. In addition, families can not afford the freshest of food like fruit and vegetables, so are having to substitute and eat microwave meals or high fat foods as they are cheaper.
Parents have to cut out their own meals in order to provide their children with at least one meal a day. Why not use school meals you say? When in work it means parents are not entitled to free school meals. On average, for one child it is £15 per week for school meals, and on average there are 1.9 (let’s say 2 for the maths) children to each household. This means in work families are paying out approximately £30 a week on school meals. Then if we counter in breakfast clubs, most schools charge around £1-£1.50 a day, so with two children in the same school going to breakfast club everyday that is £10-£15 per week, factoring in the school meals that is nearly £40-£45 a week just on meals at school. For families who are in work this is just not fair. As a community, Grimsby need to pull together and realise that poverty is not just being on benefits and living on a council estate. It hits the worst for the people who do work. We need to support each other by helping with food banks and giving away the food we just do not use. Easier said than done? It really is not.
There are approximately 88,000 people living in Grimsby, if even half of these people donate one tin of 16p beans to a food bank that is more than enough. We are of town that is talked about for being an awful town, a dirty town, but how about we do something to change that? We need to show the spirit the town had many years ago and help each other out. Not only will this increase awareness for those living in poverty and show that people do know, and people do understand, it will make us feel amazing for doing such a small but worthwhile thing. Poverty will not end any time soon, but by helping just once we can make it end faster. Be kind. Be generous. Make a family happy.
Article by Young Reporter Emily Benn
First published in Grimsby Telegraph 21st January 2020