By Gavin Aitchison, Church Action on Poverty
Groups around England and Wales will take part in Challenge Poverty Week in October, and people in Greater Manchester can all get involved.
The week has been a successful project in Scotland since 2013, and will now be held in England and Wales for the first time, from October 12th to 18th, 2020. An online event for people and projects in Greater Manchester will be held from 11am to 12 noon on Thursday October 15th, 2020 but it’s not too late for you too to play your part.
Your group could organise an online discussion or storytelling session, or simply help by sharing photos, videos and messages on social media; writing to local politicians; or attending one of the various events listed on the website.
We know that, at heart, we all want to live in a compassionate society where everyone can thrive and reach their potential. The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us of that – we have seen communities coming together amid the uncertainty with a renewed neighbourly kindness. None of us is happy seeing others hungry, lonely, or struggling to stay afloat.
The pandemic also intensified and showed starkly the inequalities in our society, however. People on low incomes and in disadvantaged areas, and people in ethnic groups already suffering from social and economic injustice, have been disproportionately affected. We’re not all in the same boat, and often those who are most weighed down by debt or poverty have been offered fewest lifelines and least support.
Too many people, particularly since the pandemic, are struggling against the threat of being swept into deeper difficulty.
As we navigate these choppy waters, and plan for life after the storm, we have a chance to do things differently. We can harness the compassion, community and connectedness that we have cherished in recent months, and say ‘enough’ to the systems and structures that have hindered people for so long. We can and must redesign our economy to reflect our shared values of justice and compassion, and by ensuring incomes are adequate and living costs affordable, we can make sure everyone has what we need.
Challenge Poverty Week is an opportunity to highlight the incredible work being done by community groups around the country, and to show what can and must be done differently.
The week aims to:
- Raise voices in unison against poverty and show that we all want to live in a more just and compassionate country.
- Show what is already being done at community level to challenge and alleviate poverty.
- Build awareness and support for long term solutions that focus on enhancing the dignity and agency of people in poverty themselves.
- Change the conversation around poverty and help end the stigma.
Greater Manchester Poverty Action is co-hosting an online discussion event with Church Action on Poverty and others on Zoom from 11am on Thursday October 15th, 2020, highlighting the effective work that is being done across the city region, and to call for more action to ensure everyone can stay afloat, now and beyond the pandemic. There will be several speakers and a chance to discuss the issues and ask questions. Sign up here.
Challenge Poverty Week is an opportunity for people in poverty to speak up, and for voices that are often ignored to be heard loud and clear. It’s a chance to show that a better, more compassionate society is possible – and that now is the time to start making it a reality.
You can download the Challenge Poverty Week toolkit, packed with ideas and tips, here