Charity begins at home

Print edition : October 05, 2012

Britain takes pride in being the worlds seventh largest economy and gives billions of pounds in international aid to other countries, including India. But the question people are asking is: what is it doing to tackle poverty in its own backyard teeming with hungry, jobless and homeless people?

In a sign of how bad the situation has become after four years of deep recession, the international aid charity Save the Childrenwell known for its anti-poverty work in Asia, Africa and South Americahas launched an unprecedented domestic appeal for donations to help Britains poor reeling from a double whammy of recession and the governments controversial spending cuts.

Launching the campaign, which bears the slogan It Shouldnt Happen Here, the charity revealed that an estimated 3.5 million children in Britain were living in poverty1.6 million in severe poverty. The figure was expected to rise by 400,000 by 2015, it warned, if urgent measures were not taken to tackle the problem.

It is shocking that in the U.K. in 2012, families are being forced to miss out on essentials like food or take on crippling debts just to meet everyday living costs, it said, pointing out that Britains poorest children were bearing the biggest burden of the economic downturn.

Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children, said that poverty levels had worsened under the Conservative-led government and said it must do more to protect the poorest and most disadvantaged from further cuts. The charity, more used to issuing appeals with pictures of starving African children, has unusually chosen the picture of a tearful white girl for its U.K. appeal, superimposed with the strapline: In the U.K. today, 1.6 million children are growing up in severe poverty. And, then, the slogan: It shouldnt happen here. Yet it is. And it is set to get worse in the years ahead.

The government, meanwhile, is spending millions of pounds on a lavish poster campaign seeking to put Great back into Great Britain!

Hasan Suroor

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