Alliance member Chrissie Pepler from the Diocese of Hereford recently gave evidence to the United Nations Special Rapporteur during his two week inquiry into rising levels of poverty in the UK. Here are her reflections:
I was privileged to be given the opportunity to present written and face to face evidence to the UN SR when he held a meeting in Bristol focusing on rural poverty as part of his two week tour of the UK.
Eight people from across England and Wales (from Pembroke to Northumberland) gathered in the Old Council Chamber in the Law School at Bristol University on the 6th November and gave evidence about the levels and impact of poverty in rural areas. There were many common themes from what we each said.
Professor Alston said to us that he was glad to give the opportunity for a focus on rural poverty and very concerned about the levels of poverty being experienced in such a wealthy county like the UK. Giving the example that foodbanks have become normalised and are becoming an acceptable part of how those experiencing poverty are supposed to survive. He questioned at the end of the evidence giving “What are politicians thinking of? How is this allowed to go on in such a rich country?”
We look forward to reading Professor Alton’s report at the end of his inquiry and hope that our Government will consider carefully what he says and what changes need to be made to reduce the damaging levels of poverty that many households are experiencing currently in the UK.