Thursday, 27 June, 2019

A day before the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights presents the critical findings from his UK country visit to the Human Rights Council, Dr Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director of The Equality Trust will be part of his conversation in Geneva, with experts from UK domestic civil society and international NGOs to reflect on the current state and scale of poverty in the UK and what can be done to address the human rights violations that are both the cause as well as the consequence of poverty. Along with Dr Wyporska, the panel consists of Dr Koldo Casla, Policy Director, Just Fair, Rebecca Rocket, Member, Unite Community Essex, Kartik Raj, Western Europe Researcher, Human Rights Watch and Loubna Freih, member of Human Rights Watch’s Geneva Committee.

Dr Wanda Wyporska said:

“It is undeniable that the fabric of society in the UK is being rent apart by the sustained high levels of inequality that we have seen over the past decades. Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur, based his report on conversations with a range of people, who spoke to him about the realities of poverty in the world’s fifth largest economy. Philip Alston met our young equality campaigners, who painted a bleak picture of growing up poor in the UK, the effects of the housing crisis, gentrification, racism, welfare cuts, status anxiety, mental health and food insecurity. I will be highlighting the effects of poverty on our young people - a generation which is all too aware of the hardships they face.”

Here are some of their comments.

“Benefit cuts have affected the activities that we do, for example, there is no longer enough money for us to go on trips, and it’s harder for us to buy food. We eat cheaper food now as a result, which is worse and less healthy, and everything is getting more expensive in the supermarkets. Soon we won’t be able to go to food markets, we will have to go to free food banks.”

“During the 12 months I was made homeless. I was 18 and the council said I was not a priority. I was struggling with depression and anxiety and juggling work. I was told that if I stop work and have a baby I would be more likely to get housing.” Tayah

“I was in shared accommodation for two years ‘cause I was having problems with my little brother’s dad. At the start it was all right, but as people started leaving it got worse. The conditions of the yard got worse and worse. By the last 6 months it wasn’t liveable. It was a low point in my life. Ending up living alone in that house for 6 months, thinking is this living? I started to get stressed, depressed, I couldn’t focus properly I was stuck in what I thought was an everlasting cycle. I thought I’d be there for the rest of my life.” Max

Ends

The Equality Trust is the national charity that works to improve quality of life through reducing social and economic inequality.