‘’System Changers’ in Kilwinning is a programme supported by Corra and Lankelly Chase. The programme designed to bring people together and provide the time, space and tools to contribute to positive change at an individual, organisational and systemic level.
Below is a written piece by Louise Shaw Community Co-ordinator in Corra’s People in Place team (Blacklands – Corra), as she not only identifies what poverty can mean for the individual, but also how we can work in our communities to better understand and change the system.
Poverty. What a horrible word, no one wants this label. In our media, in our jobs, and in our lives, we hear about Poverty. Poverty doesn’t just stop at food; it is fuel, clothing, housing, period poverty, health, and the list goes on.
This week, two people told me how they were really struggling financially, how they didn’t have enough money to pay the bills or for food. One of these people is applying for a third job to try to make ends meet. The reality is that people who were just getting by before are now struggling, and these will be people that you know, that you work with, or maybe that person is you.
In these days when we are returning to offices, the commute cost alone can be crippling. For many, even lunch and coffee breaks at the café along the street may also be a thing of the past.
I am not sure what has changed – is it that people are opening up more than before about their circumstances, or is it that the struggle of meeting basic human needs is becoming normalised?
Colleagues, friends, neighbours and relatives are feeling the intense pressure to keep up with the increasing demand of bills. Times are changing and for millions of people, Poverty isn’t just something we read about – it’s life!
Connections and Consequences
This is not okay. To be hungry, unable to heat your home or clothe yourself is totally unacceptable – this is 2022! The system is failing in a monumental way, as thousands of people, families, neighbours and friends, are suffering because of the flaws in the system.
Perception of the System
More often than not, we hear stories of people ‘cheating the system’. We allow these few stories to cloud the reality that our system (which is meant to support people) is being abused, rather than acknowledging that the system is broken. Those in need are not being supported, they are not automatically advised about what benefits could help, or by right, what you are entitled to. What we have instead is a system that requires you to investigate and to find out how it works for yourself, the system expects you to navigate your way through it alone, in the hope that you may make it through another week.
This isn’t going to just get better, so what’s next? What needs to change? What can you and I do to help?
Where is the flex in this system? It’s time we gave the flex in this system a good hard shove!