more on poverty

It is my pleasure to include these musings from my colleague, now guest blogger, Derek.

To steal a line from Phil Collins, Think about it, if you’re reading this blog, it’s just another day in Paradise. You’ve got access to the internet, will probably have 3 good meals, have clothes on your back (and more in the cupboard), slept in a bed, live in a house. I could go on. 

In the UK there are apparently 2.5 million pensioners living beneath the official poverty line. Roughly 5% of the population and that’s just pensioners. In Australia apparently approximately 10% of the population are considered to be living in Poverty.  Apparently, when Phil Collins wrote the song he was not inspired by the plight of the homeless, it did stir connotations of an experience he had in Washington DC where he saw people living in boxes only a stone’s throw away from the affluent parts of town. That was 20 years ago. 100 years ago, when the pension was first introduced in the UK, the workhouse was still a feature of British life. Poverty has been a part of what we would ‘think’ was “1st world” life for too long to remember. Poverty so often is thought of as the plight of those living in the developing world; those examples are too numerous to list. It is an epidemic problem the world over that cannot be ignored.

Even given the damage done in recent months in the economies of the world, the global wealth is sufficient to solve this problem, yet for so long the courage and conviction to address the issues has not existed.  In his 2005 work, The End of Poverty, Jeffrey Sachs wrote that “Extreme poverty can be ended, not in the time of our grandchildren, but our time. […] with the right policies and key interventions, extreme poverty – defined as living on less than $1 a day – can be eradicated within 20 years.”   20 years … That’s nothing.

So what’s stopping us? Clearly unless our Governments take this seriously and decide it is a priority to become involved in a meaningful way, nothing will happen. Clearly until each of us individually takes this seriously and decides that it is a priority to become involved in a meaningful way, our Governments will not react.

I’m not pretending that it’s not a complex problem but it is within our grasp to “Make Poverty History“;  What a legacy that would be! I know we can’t do it all, but we can each do something.

The challenge is to work out what influence we can have and how best to capitalise on our good fortune; this is what I struggle with most. I’m probably quite typical: My family support children and communities through sponsorship type arrangements;  My business allocates a percentage of profits to charitable causes. We give away clothes and toys and ‘things’ accumulated that we don’t need. It’s easy for it to feel like it’s not significant and that there’s more that could be done. The focus this week on poverty has prompted me to consider how to keep the issue front of mind for my local MP.

 I’d be interested to know what other people are doing .