Defining poverty

First published in Letters by

I HAVE followed your articles and the Readers’ Letters regarding poverty. Before we start trying to get rid of it, we need to know what it is.

Is it only having one car? Perhaps it could be only having a black-and-white television. Or can it be brought down to how much money we have?

In my day, it was not having enough to eat, inadequate clothing, no job, no education and not a lot of hope for improvement. There were few benefits and my father worked for less than he could get on the dole because it gave him the dignity of being in a job.

Mathew Laverack (Letters, November 28) was right to say that we did not see ourselves as poor.

We recognised that there were people with more than we had, but we didn’t broadcast it.

We also knew that the only way to get out of it was to work, which we did, taking any job we could to improve our stock.

However, if anyone out there can define what represents poverty in this country today, I would be grateful. Then we will know how to get rid of it.

Steve Helsdon, Howe Hill Close, Holgate, York.

 

• Mr Laverack’s letter of November 28 (“We had no money but were never poor”) appears to rehearse the old chestnut that poverty is only when you have no food, shelter or warmth (eg absolute poverty, rather than relative poverty). This argument that no one is in absolute poverty any more goes back to John Moore, Tory minister for the Department of Health and Social Security in the mid-1980s.

Many children in the UK will go hungry and cold this winter which, irrespective of one’s political standpoint, cannot help their life chances of ‘‘improving themselves’’. Learning is far easier if you have a full tummy and a warm environment. Since the 1980s, inequality has escalated, creating a more divisive population. There is an alternative.

As Dr John Sentamu said so eloquently in The Press, we are a better society when we invest in each other and research demonstrates a more equal society is a happier one – even for those at the top.

So, rather than accepting poverty will always be with us, I urge Mr Laverack to take a more optimistic view and help to campaign for a more just society, both in tackling relative poverty in the UK and absolute poverty abroad.

RKM Bridge Holgate Road, York

 

• Matthew Laverack had an idyllic childhood. We really had it tough. Bedrooms would have been a luxury to us. We were evicted from our hovel and had to live in a septic tank. Hand-me-down clothes were sold to buy meagre scraps of food.

We were sent to work sweeping chimneys for tuppence a month and had to buy our own brushes. But try telling that to people today and they don’t believe you. Poverty? You don’t know the meaning of the word.

John Jones, Sand Hutton Manor, York.

Comments (5)

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1:36pm Fri 30 Nov 12

inthesticks says...

You said it yourself -"In my day, it was not having enough to eat, inadequate clothing, no job, no education and not a lot of hope for improvement."
Well apart from the no education (and unless your over 95 I tend to think education was compulsory), that is exactly what a lot of children and young people have.
Aren`t we lucky if we are oblivious to it`s existence? We don`t have to see it or witness it but believe me it does exist.
Do some research, e.g. with Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Facts that tell us that people from poorer families do not live as long and that children from poorer families get more illnesses and have a poor diet, are less likely to gain qualifications.
The majority of people in poverty are from working families, so people need to stop equating it with families who don`t work. The fact is that something is rotten when child poverty has increased in the last 30 years, low wages don`t cover basic bills and needs - it`s as simple as that.
Frankly this attitude from the older generation of `we worked hard to buy our house` etc, etc, is unhelpful. Jobs are scarce, very low paid in a lot of cases and there is absolutely no chance AT ALL of anyone on low wages in this day and age of ever being able to buy a home, so the fact that lots of you managed to do that in the 50`s, 60`s or 70`s has no relevance to today.
No use expecting the government to know or do anything about it when most of the cabinet are millionaires who legislate in favour of their wealthy buddies and take benefits even from the disabled! -Clever ploy that was Tories to make out they were all capable of work and sway the public against anyone claiming any benefit whatsoever.
If you don`t know anything about poverty, from your nice warm bungalow, then find out.
You said it yourself -"In my day, it was not having enough to eat, inadequate clothing, no job, no education and not a lot of hope for improvement." Well apart from the no education (and unless your over 95 I tend to think education was compulsory), that is exactly what a lot of children and young people have. Aren`t we lucky if we are oblivious to it`s existence? We don`t have to see it or witness it but believe me it does exist. Do some research, e.g. with Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Facts that tell us that people from poorer families do not live as long and that children from poorer families get more illnesses and have a poor diet, are less likely to gain qualifications. The majority of people in poverty are from working families, so people need to stop equating it with families who don`t work. The fact is that something is rotten when child poverty has increased in the last 30 years, low wages don`t cover basic bills and needs - it`s as simple as that. Frankly this attitude from the older generation of `we worked hard to buy our house` etc, etc, is unhelpful. Jobs are scarce, very low paid in a lot of cases and there is absolutely no chance AT ALL of anyone on low wages in this day and age of ever being able to buy a home, so the fact that lots of you managed to do that in the 50`s, 60`s or 70`s has no relevance to today. No use expecting the government to know or do anything about it when most of the cabinet are millionaires who legislate in favour of their wealthy buddies and take benefits even from the disabled! -Clever ploy that was Tories to make out they were all capable of work and sway the public against anyone claiming any benefit whatsoever. If you don`t know anything about poverty, from your nice warm bungalow, then find out. inthesticks
  • Score: 0

8:12pm Fri 30 Nov 12

fulfordphilosopher says...

That's nowt John Jones. Seventeen of us lived in a cardboard box with only a candle to keep us warm...... And on really cold nights we lit it .......until it burnt our box down. Then we had to huddle up to our Dad while he sucked on an extra srong mint to keep us warm.
That's nowt John Jones. Seventeen of us lived in a cardboard box with only a candle to keep us warm...... And on really cold nights we lit it .......until it burnt our box down. Then we had to huddle up to our Dad while he sucked on an extra srong mint to keep us warm. fulfordphilosopher
  • Score: 0

9:08am Sat 1 Dec 12

Buzz Light-year says...

Some people had to survive on only nine bottles of champagne.
Some people had to survive on only nine bottles of champagne. Buzz Light-year
  • Score: 0

10:13am Sat 1 Dec 12

capt spaulding says...

and only one battery for your jet pack
and only one battery for your jet pack capt spaulding
  • Score: 0

9:54am Tue 4 Dec 12

capt spaulding says...

Buzz Light-year wrote:
Some people had to survive on only nine bottles of champagne.
Ive been scratching my head over this one Buzz. But finally dawn broke .

Its another dig at Matthew Laverack ?
Buzz youve got to move on you are becoming the cyber equivelent of a stalker.
By the by i know for a fact that all that Champers was sold and the full amount raised went to charity.

Come on Buzz there are more serious things to go to infinity for.
[quote][p][bold]Buzz Light-year[/bold] wrote: Some people had to survive on only nine bottles of champagne.[/p][/quote]Ive been scratching my head over this one Buzz. But finally dawn broke . Its another dig at Matthew Laverack ? Buzz youve got to move on you are becoming the cyber equivelent of a stalker. By the by i know for a fact that all that Champers was sold and the full amount raised went to charity. Come on Buzz there are more serious things to go to infinity for. capt spaulding
  • Score: 0

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