This growth of poverty will end when people stop voting for it, Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 20th April 2022

Last week I attended a fundraising event for Free Shop, a local organisation which has been providing financially strained families with access to food and other essentials since November 2020. During the pandemic, which saw Crawley experience record levels of unemployment, they have played a vital role, filling a gap which would have otherwise led to people going hungry.

Many such inspirational groups have been established in our area over recent years, charities like Ten Little Toes which enable new parents to access the equipment they need so low household incomes don’t result in babies being put at risk. It’s vital support and much like Free Shop it’s entirely dependent on charity to survive. These organisations play a crucial role in our community and they need all of us who can contribute to do whatever we can to help. Every little bit makes a difference.

Yet, regardless of whether or not you’re able to contribute, it’s important to remember charity can only go so far and what’s happening in the UK right now, one of planet’s the wealthiest nations, isn’t normal. There are simply no excuses why in a country so rich anyone should be going hungry. Things haven’t always been this way and while there are external factors at work, the vast majority of the reason why poverty has re-emerged as a major crisis in the UK over the last twelve years is as a direct result of decisions taken by the Conservatives around public spending and economic policy.

Over a third of Crawley’s children are now growing up in poverty. It’s a statistic which deeply depresses me, not only for the tragedy itself, but because too few people seem to care enough to do something about it. The fact is, before the Conservatives came to power, we were undergoing the steepest decline in child poverty in this country’s history. To claim that all parties are the same is lazy and can be disproven with even a few minutes research. The truth is: what is happening right now is only possible so long as people keep voting for it.

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