Lord Truro and the “Undeserving Poor”

Once more all decent folk found themselves under attack from the ever hungry and multiheaded mythological beast. Fortunately Lord Freud was able to defend us all once more from the onslaught of the “undeserving poor”.

20130703-074824.jpgThe daemonisation of the poor is a well documented phenomenon and a tool that is being used to drive ideological political change. “Why don’t they help themselves out of poverty?” We have a situation in the UK where food bank use has trebled in the past year. Lord Freud seems to be of the opinion that food banks are one of the many choices that people mmakes when planning their weekly shop. “We can get some cold cuts from the farmers market, they do that lovely Brussels Pâté. We need to make sure we get to Waitrose on the way home for the loo roll and dishwasher tablets. Ooooo, and we’d best stop at the Food Bank and get some beans for the kids”.

The Bishop of Truro challenged Lord Freud on his statements to The Lords. Church Action on Poverty challenged these ideological beliefs five weeks ago. Oxfam challenge this ideological belief daily. Everyone who works with people in poverty challenges this blame culture, designed to shift the focus of blame for the current global economic climate to the most vulnerable in our society. The people who aren’t challenging this are those who are using the myth to drive ideological political change.

The growth in food aid demonstrates that the social safety net Is failing in its basic duty to ensure that families have access to sufficient income to feed themselves adequately. The exponential rise in the creation of food banks reflects a growing problem and only delivers mitigation. Food banks provide a vital emergency service to the people they support but they do not address the underlying structural causes for the growth of food poverty. – Walking the Breadline

IF

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Earlier this year our Parochial Church Council decided to back the IF Campaign.  Members of the congregation brought it to the wider church because they believed it is something we should be doing to make our voices heard.  This is something people at Holy Nativity care about passionately .

As a community we read the bible each week and find that the author of our faith is challenging us.  From the sermon on the mount where Jesus calls us to a kingdom where the lowest are raised up and the poor shall be filled (Luke 6:20-21) to the things that we do “for the least of these” in Matthew 25:34-36, Jesus calls us to bring Justice.  Justice for the poor.  Justice for the hungry.  Justice for the oppressed.  At the Churches Together Lent Course this week we had a scientist talking about “God’s divine love revealed through science”.  As John spoke these words struck me:  “We live in a world that produces enough resources for everyone.  Sadly there are people who don’t like sharing”.

We’ve seen rhetoric for years about how the world is full of inequality.  We’ve seen other similar campaigns to bring an end to world hunger.  We remember Jubilee 2000.  We remember Live 8.  We remember Dawn French’s impassioned plea as Revd Geraldine Boadicea Granger.

In the UK we live lives where people feel disconnected.  We live in lives where people feel powerless.  We live lives where we assume that there is someone else going to make the decisions for us and we don’t have a say in that process.  A faceless “suit” who is going to make these inequalities happen anyway.  The way we begin living in a society that operates like this is by losing our voice.  By refusing to speak out.  By allowing the distractions that those in power want to throw at us to become the most important priority in our lives.

Tonight we raise money once again for Comic Relief.  So much of what we do is a response to the symptoms of poverty not to the root causes of poverty.  We raise money to fix problems that are often caused by the systems we perpetuate.  We don’t even realise they are there because they are under the surface.  If we’re honest, it is only in the last six months that anyone has thought twice about buying a Starbucks coffee because we didn’t know that there was a problem with corporate tax avoidance.  A member of the Halifax Food Drop in spoke to our Deanery Synod last week.  She said “this was never supposed to be a long-term solution”.  The few raising money to feed the hungry on a global scale was never supposed to be a long-term solution.

This is not how it should be.  In God’s kingdom, this is not how it should be.  You have a voice.  We all have a voice.  It is only by giving up our voice that we allow the few “suits” to make decisions for the many.  Join the campaign.  Publish it wide.  Write to your MP.  Tell your friends.  Tweet about it.  Put it on Facebook.  I don’t want to find myself posting a video of Geraldine Granger again in 8 years time.