Make poverty in the UK history, says new alliance

By staff writers
September 10, 2008

A new alliance of religious and secular groups committed to cooperation to "make poverty history in the UK" is to be launched on Thursday 11 September 2008, with involvement from major churches and Christian agencies.

The 'Get Fair' includes in its membership denominations such as the Church of England, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church.

Also involved are leading NGOs like Church Action on Poverty, the Church Urban Fund and Housing Justice.

The 50 member organisations also include the Muslim Council of Britain and Islamic Aid, as well as secular charities like Shelter, Oxfam, Save the Children and Help the Aged.

All have projects and advocacy priorities for tackling different aspects of poverty in Britain.

The new coalition has emerged not long after the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published research claiming that “the public are currently a long way from supporting an anti-UK poverty agenda. They are not aware of the problem and do not believe that it is a legitimate issue.”

Campaigners say that the impact of relative poverty in Britain - which can mean low income, poor diet and housing, inadequate education and worse - is often swept away by comparison with extreme poverty and inequality in other parts of the world.

But they point out that this is not a fair comparison, and that deprivation and injustice needs to be tackled wherever it manifests itself.

Get Fair is therefore being launched to drive forward efforts to close the gap between rich and poor in the UK and to transform public attitudes towards poverty.

Members will lobby all the major political parties to ensure they remain committed to ending child poverty by 2020 and seeing poverty eradicated across every generation in the UK.

Niall Cooper, National Coordinator of Church Action on Poverty, and coordinator of the Get Fair campaign, asked: “Why is it that in the fifth richest country in the world, poverty continues to blight the lives of far too many people? Why is it that too many have failed to share in our increased prosperity as a nation? Ultimately what is lacking is the popular pressure and political will to bring change about."

Cooper added: “In the fifth richest country in human history there is no excuse for allowing the gap between rich and poor to continue to grow. It’s time for politicians of all the major parties to sign up to a goal of ending UK poverty: Its time to Get Fair.”

He added that the churches had a crucial role to play in eradicating poverty in the UK.

“Make Poverty History showed the power of the churches to take action to end global poverty. Our task, and our challenge, is now to bring this hope back home,” said Mr Cooper.

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