I don’t feel like a person any more…
The poor are not listened to…
I feel as if my life is public property…
At the benefits office, they talk to you like you are a piece of dirt…
The blame game must stop is the latest report from Church Action on Poverty on the stigmatization of people in poverty – described by ‘WhyPoverty’ as a ‘must read.’
Every day, people who are struggling to make ends meet are demonised and blamed for their poverty. Politicians and the media use abusive language and images. Scroungers. Skivers. Chavs. Underclass.
This language is used to fuel mistrust by contrasting supposed ‘strivers’ with ‘skivers’. It is used to justify cuts to our safety net, which will drive hundreds of thousands of people further into poverty. It dehumanises and degrades people who are already struggling to survive. It blames them for an economic crisis which is not of their making. It is deeply unjust.
If you oppress the poor, you offend the one who made them.
Christians believe that every person is made in the image of God, and has value. We are called to speak out when people are marginalised, excluded and stigmatised.
“Stigmatising people on benefits is politically popular, but it isn’t fair, it isn’t right, and it will have long-term impacts on society that I think we will come to regret deeply. Over a period of time it will make Britain less generous, less sympathetic and less willing to cooperate.” Sarah Teather, Lib Dem MP for Brent Central
“The most vulnerable people in our society are increasingly being used as scapegoats,
and blamed for economic problems which are not of their making. I welcome this
report from Church Action on Poverty, which looks at the facts and tells the real stories
of people struggling to get by, shattering the myths and distortions which are becoming
too common in public debates.” Rt Rev John Packer, Bishop of Leeds
Email your local newspaper: Challenge the editor, and their journalists and readers, to think carefully about the labels they use – and the people behind those labels.
Get your Church involved: Download our free worship and other resources for Poverty and Homelessness Action Week.