The International Network of Street Papers (INSP) has spoken out about the need to “tackle public perceptions about what its like to be homeless and in poverty” as part of the solution to the UK’s growing poverty crisis.
INSP’s comments come in response to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s UK Poverty report, which has revealed for the first time how many thousands of pounds are needed by families to escape poverty, and how this situation has deteriorated over time.
The report highlights that around 6 million people were in deep poverty in 2021/22, including 1.5 million children, 3.8 million working-age adults and 600,000 pensioners.
INSP is a UK charity that represents newspapers and magazines working to tackle poverty and homelessness across the world. 92 street papers operate in 35 different countries, providing people in poverty with opportunities to earn a dignified income.
INSP’s Chief Executive, Mike Findlay-Agnew, says: “The latest picture of poverty in the UK is stark. With deep poverty worsening, rising to 3.8 million, the real casualties of the crisis are some of country’s most vulnerable people, including minority ethnic groups, disabled people, and lone parent families.
“Despite this, too many people in the UK deny the extent of our poverty problem. This is why tackling perceptions about homelessness and poverty should be part of the solution to this major social issue.
“Public and media narrative around homelessness and poverty often focusses on a simplistic view of the world, reducing people to unhelpful labels such as ‘benefits scroungers’ or assuming that rough sleeping is the full extent of the problem.
“It’s time we changed the narrative and language in relation to homelessness and poverty. We need to be hearing and learning from and adapting our policies based on the views and experiences of the real experts of poverty: those that have lived through it, first hand.
“Doing so will allow us to get to grips with the complexity of the issues and create solutions based on what the harsh reality is for many people living in poverty just now.
“We often hear the mantra, ‘Homelessness is a policy choice’, highlighting how first world governments sometimes fail to address the issues associated with poverty on their own doorsteps.
“With the UK’s general election due within the next year, there needs to be political consensus and a commitment to take on the issues head-on. Tackling perceptions and changing the narrative about homelessness is an essential part of this.”
Global Summit in 2024 looks at solutions to poverty crisis
Due to the increased prevalence of the poverty crisis globally, more solutions are required to meet the challenges head-on. INSP has confirmed that the Global Street Paper Summit will be held in Liverpool, UK between Monday 9 and Friday 13 September 2024, where international delegates will be invited to debate and discuss solutions to the poverty crisis.