Poverty exists, in a variety of manifestations, on our doorstep in our communities. Poverty in the UK may not always be visible, but, for the families and individuals in insecure accommodation, struggling to meet living costs and foregoing meals, it is very real. The figures on poverty in the UK are stark and shocking. With 3.7 million children living in poverty and 3 million people suffering from malnourishment, this issue must be a priority for us as a Church, as well as a nation. Voluntary organisations, charities and communities play a vital role in helping to alleviate poverty and working with some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
Many of CSAN’s charities are racing to keep up with the demand. The stories included in this report, such as those of Peter, Adelina and Katrin, all illustrate the very real human impact which recent changes to the welfare benefit system, and especially the sanction regime, have had on the lives of people up and down our country. They are people who are very often already vulnerable and in need of the support provided by a social safety net – whether that be because they have fallen ill, lost their job, or have fled war or danger in another part of the world.
As the Catholic Church in England and Wales, we recognise the need to raise greater awareness of the ‘hidden’ poverty that exists on our doorstep. This report aims to speak into this vital conversation, bringing together the real stories of people in poverty who use CSAN members’ services, alongside the voices of the staff who help them. This report forms a coherent and genuine picture of the impact of poverty in the UK, and we offer it as material for developing an effective and person-centred response to this crisis.
CSAN has found that the welfare changes of the past five years and the delivery of those changes in the UK are pushing claimants and support staff to the edge of their capacity.
Read the rest in Caritas-reports-the-impact-of-welfare-changes