Sunday, 3 July 2011


FAC stall at the Churches Together 'Poverty Summit

Furness Against the Cuts attended the Poverty Summit organised by Cumbria Churches Together held from 4 til 8pm at the Trinity Church Centre, Abbey Road, Barrow, on Wednesday 22nd June.

Several other organisations such as Shelter and the Citizens' Advice Bureau together with faith and financial inclusion groups assembled to consider the issue of poverty in the local community.  Well, that's what we at FAC thought it would be about.  The main thrust of the event was the establishment of a Barrow Credit Union.

Credit Unions are of great benefit to those     on low incomes who are suddenly faced with having to make a substantial payment for a piece of domestic equipment such as a replacement washing machine or providing new school uniforms for growing children.
Such people are able to obtain a loan to meet this expense with interest on the loan being as low as 1%.  Persons applying for the loan must have been making regular
                                                                                       contributions to the Credit Union for a period
   of at least 13 weeks, however.  It was               
   pointed out that households in poverty might            
   not be in a position to afford to save even a 
   small amount on a regular basis.

   There was also the matter of a developing
    opinion that the Credit Union was a bunch               
    of middleclass 'do-goodies' helping poor,
    incompetent and incapable workingclass    
    folk manage their financial affairs more 
    responsibly but, generally, it was agreed 
    that anything which kept people out of the 
    hands of loan sharks was a good thing.
    FAC asked in what way could a Credit 
    Union help end poverty and this left the promoters of the event speechless - which was not entirely unexpected once it was understood the object of the day was the creation of a Barrow Credit Union and nothing more.

FAC had approached the Poverty Summit from a broader angle and asked that the following types of poverty be considered:
poverty of political will - where governments fail to take action to prevent human suffering (hurricane Katrina, for example);
poverty of empathy - carers abuse those who need their support (Winterbourne Residential Home, neglect of elderly in hospitals, etc)
poverty of the intellect - where seemingly intelligent people cannot 'see the wood for the trees' on the many pressing issues of our time (environmental degredation, atmospheric pollution, global warming, nuclear waste, etc)
poverty of conscience - individuals concerned only with matters that affect them personally, caring nothing for the welfare of others in their community.
poverty of opportunity - lack of resources for education, work and leisure (eg children whose families cannot afford a computer thus unable to access the internet, scrapping the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16 to 18 year olds, trebling of university fees, closure of libraries, etc)
poverty of compassion (similar to lack of conscience but global rather than merely parochial or national) - apathy towards the plight of others and an unwillingness to provide long-term support for relief campaigns (victims of famine, refugees, wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan - and now Libya) and disregard for the principles of the United Nations
poverty of honesty - lying politicians and dishonest news media (eg WMDs in Iraq, Iraq responsible for the 11th Sept attack on the twin towers, Bin Laden supported by the Taliban)

In Britain today we are witnessing the deliberate creation of poverty in our society.  An unelected British government is forging ahead with policies calculated to undermine the Welfare State and sell off those sections of the National Health Service that are most likely to provide a very profitable return on private investment.  These policies will deprive many people of the means to earn a living, to provide themselves and their families with food, clothing and a home, and to access health care and education.  So, FAC put the question:
what are YOU prepared to do to resist these policies? and left a Join FAC sign-up sheet on our stall.  Some signed it and will be contacted in the next week or so.