Am I alone in getting tired of arguments which try to pit the needs of people in poverty in the UK and in other parts of the world against each other (‘The great question of Britain’s aid budget’, Church of England newspaper)?
Try telling the increasing numbers of people who are reliant on food parcels in towns and cities across the UK that ‘real poverty’ only exists somewhere else. Try telling a destitute asylum seeker when they pitch up at your church that ‘true poverty’ is something different.
Church Action on Poverty works hard to highlight the plight of people struggling with poverty, debt and unemployment in the UK – but we don’t do so by seeking to claim that this is any more, or any less, important than speaking up for people in poverty elsewhere in the world.
We now live in a world in which the old notions of the ‘rich North’ and the ‘poor South’ are fast disappearing. Within the global economy there are huge inequalities of wealth and power not just between countries, but within them. In a week when we learnt that there are now more than 11 million millionaires, who collectively own £26 trillion, the question should not be whether we ‘prefer’ tackling poverty at home or overseas, but what we can do together to narrow the growing global gulf between rich and poor.
Putting the needs of the poorest and weakest first is a central challenge of the Christian gospel – wherever they are to be found.