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The Experience of Poverty in an Unequal Society - Sarah Welford


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Sarah Welford, Policy and Parliamentary Officer from Poverty Alliance, talks about the experience of poverty in today's unequal society.

The Whose Economy? seminars, organised by Oxfam Scotland and the University of the West of Scotland, brought together experts to look at recent changes in the Scottish economy and their impact on Scotland's most vulnerable communities.

Held over winter and spring 2010-11 in Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow and Stirling, the series posed the question of what economy is being created in Scotland and, specifically, for whom?

To find out more and view other Whose Economy? papers, presentations and videos visit:

Published in: News & Politics
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The Experience of Poverty in an Unequal Society - Sarah Welford

  1. 1. The Experience of Poverty in an Unequal Society: Why Tackling Stigma should be a priority in anti-poverty policy Sarah Welford Policy and Parliamentary Officer
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>The economy – the elephant in the room </li></ul><ul><li>Economic growth and its repercussions </li></ul>
  3. 3. The worst thing about living in poverty <ul><li>“ The worst thing of it is the contempt of your fellow citizens. I and many other families live in that contempt.” </li></ul><ul><li>Moraene Roberts, National Poverty Hearing, UK </li></ul><ul><li>“ The challenge for me is the isolation, the loneliness, the painful awareness that we are not able to join in society or play any part in it.” </li></ul><ul><li>Family Member, ATD Fourth World UK </li></ul>
  4. 4. Shame and humiliation <ul><li>“ We are not inferior, we are not deficient, but we are made to feel that way” </li></ul><ul><li>Voices from Caia Park: Communities </li></ul><ul><li>Against Poverty, Wales </li></ul><ul><li>“ I would rather be mourned when dead then mourned whilst still alive” Respondent of Disability Alliance Poll </li></ul>
  5. 5. The rationale behind stigma <ul><li>Shifting the responsibility of poverty to the individual. </li></ul><ul><li>The priority of the economy fuels an individualistic outlook </li></ul><ul><li>‘ All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’. Universal Declaration of Human Rights </li></ul><ul><li>The American dream syndrome </li></ul>
  6. 6. The myth: The biggest injustice of all? <ul><li>Work shy </li></ul><ul><li>Lacking in morals </li></ul><ul><li>Scroungers </li></ul><ul><li>Vs reality: </li></ul><ul><li>Hard working </li></ul><ul><li>Excellent money managers </li></ul><ul><li>Tenacious </li></ul><ul><li>Strong </li></ul><ul><li>Determined </li></ul>
  7. 7. Discrimination and Povertyism <ul><li>Sweeping generalisations </li></ul><ul><li>Accepted name calling: ‘neds, townies, scallies, cheats, scroungers’ </li></ul><ul><li>“ The worst thing about it is the fact that we have </li></ul><ul><li>created a culture where it is acceptable to speak this </li></ul><ul><li>way about a whole group of people, the majority of </li></ul><ul><li>whom are living very difficult lives” </li></ul><ul><li>Participant in Poverty Alliance Evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Participation Change project </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Repercussions of Povertyism <ul><li>Tightening up of conditionality of benefits and resulting stress and hardship. </li></ul><ul><li>Fear: Fear of accessing services that people are in most need of. </li></ul><ul><li>“ It’s a huge burden and you have to battle on </li></ul><ul><li>quietly. You cannot ask for help because you </li></ul><ul><li>fear that your children will be taken into care” </li></ul><ul><li>Participant in the Evidence Participation Change project </li></ul>
  9. 9. Repercussions of Povertyism <ul><li>Deserving and undeserving poor - the power of the front line service. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Policy implementation is, therefore, also affected by the perceptions and beliefs that staff themselves bring to their jobs </li></ul>
  10. 10. The experience of poverty: relative measures <ul><li>At the bottom and everyone knowing that. </li></ul><ul><li>Not being able to provide children with same opportunities as their friends. </li></ul><ul><li>Constantly saying no when everyone is saying yes. </li></ul><ul><li>Feelings, respect, self esteem. </li></ul><ul><li>A human rights issue. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Conclusion <ul><li>A pressing need to address our preoccupation with economic growth. </li></ul><ul><li>Tackling stigma and getting stories told: the key to combating poverty </li></ul>
  12. 12. To view all the papers in the Whose Economy series click here To view all the videos and presentations from the seminars click here