Today is Blog Action Day when it is hoped that a collective conscience can be turned towards one subject – Poverty. I thought about a brief dabble into the different thoughts it conjures up for me, personally.
I could talk about personal experiences because although I have never been in a situation that I have experienced poverty first hand, I can say that I have seen and experienced it through others. Either through my work which often, by its nature, places me face to face with poverty as it exists in the UK and particularly as it affects older people. One instance springs to mind – possibly because it was the first time I considered the impact and pervasiveness of poverty in the UK. It was when I was a social work student on my first placement.
I went into the ‘big wide world’ with somewhat blinkered eyes. I went to see a woman who lived in a high-rise in the inner city. Fresh blood stains lingered in the lift and the cold concrete almost frightened me. There was a coldness I’ve seen many times since. It doesn’t frighten me anymore. The woman I saw, in her barely decorated house with a couple of plastic garden chairs in it and an almost worn-out mattress was smoking a cigarette the entire time I was there. It was late autumn and I was cold.
She explained to me why she made the choices to pick cigarettes over food. I tried to reason with her. We looked at budget planning. The money didn’t exist to plan with.
Age Concern are running a lobbying campaign to write to your MP about reforming the Pension system. They have a template letter on their site. It won’t take long!
It’s also important though to take a more global view of poverty- an absolute state which may never be experienced by people living in the so-called ‘first world’ nations.
One of the world’s biggest killers and greatest causes of ill-health and suffering across the globe is listed almost at the end of the International Classification of Diseases. It is given the code Z.59.5 – “Extreme poverty.”
I never knew that the ICD-10 had a classification for ‘Extreme Poverty’. Surely of all avoidable illnesses/diseases conditions that one would jump right out at you. Extreme poverty has a disease classification. I had to repeat it because I find it chilling.
So what can we do about this? Donating money is an obvious call out. I won’t provide any links because people have choices and generally know where to go if they want to give. Donating clothes, items, books to local charity shops – it’s good for a clear-out! Buying from local charity shops too! Always good for second hand books.
Little steps, little things.
Raising awareness too – this is something I’m going to look at myself. Sometimes I don’t spend enough time looking beyond the immediate – I’m not proud of that!
In the meantime, Prin has produced a fine list of poverty-related resources.
I’m just going to add a couple of UK-based links..
Age Concern are running a campaign to encourage older people to claim the benefits to which they are entitled.
So check out some of the links, take some action even if it is just talking to someone else about the issues. We can all help in a small way and it doesn’t have to be about giving money. Time can be just as precious.