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Not talking about poverty does not make the problem go away

Poverty and ice cream have only one thing in common – we don’t talk about them very often.

Today is, we are told, Ice Cream for Breakfast Day. A day when people feel free to start the day with a bowl of ice cream. Before ice cream at breakfast had a day it was probably something that people did; just no one talked about it.

That’s my point – not talking about something does not make it go away. Naming it, on the other hand, allows us to at least talk about it. If we talk about it, maybe we can do something positive about it.

Thanet has a poverty problem

In all of Kent, Thanet has the second highest total number of children living in poverty (after Medway) but by far the highest percentage of children living in poverty.

Back in 2012 Thanet Star reported that Thanet was the poorest area of Kent with over 25% of children living in poverty. Back then, Labour was in the driving seat (sort of) of Thanet District Council and we asked if they had what it took to make a difference.

Maybe we were expecting too much to ask that those who run TDC could change so big a problem. After all, the Thanet’s poverty problem did not go away. After all, 2012 was also when Thanet’s Families in Need was founded and they have been in demand ever since.

Poverty is self-perpetuating

Research suggests that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are massively disadvantaged in life. They are less likely to achieve at school and so as adults, poverty disadvantaged children are more likely to have low earnings and be less likely to work. Which locks another generation into the same trap.

In case you were thinking that “this is not my problem”, these children are more likely to be involved in anti-social behaviour, including drug use and crime. If you want crime to go down, then people must be released from the poverty trap.

This is a problem that impacts all of us:

Many forms of social disadvantage have a ‘perpetual’ character, according to the findings of a large-scale European research project. Past inequalities can themselves lead to future inequalities – not only for the individuals concerned but also for their children.

Thanet poverty is getting worse

Our 2012 article said that around 25% of children in the area lived in poverty. New figures show that has risen to 34.7%. For all the talk from KCC about regularly addressing the problem of poverty, the truth is that not enough has been done.

In one part of Thanet over half of all children live in poverty.

When I Googled food banks in Thanet I found six food banks. Six places giving out food to hungry people in a single district of one of the world’s richest countries. How did we get things so badly wrong?

How can we call ourselves a nation that cares when we so many go hungry?

We need to talk frankly about poverty in Thanet

Part of the issue, I think, is that poverty is something we just don’t talk about enough. What we need is to open a frank and honest discussion about poverty in the area. For that to happen we need to stop pretending that poverty does not happen.

There is a stigma attached to being poor. Unfairly I feel. Part of that ar the ridiculous claims by the right-wing tabloids that paint all poor people as lazy layabouts. When the truth is poverty just means there is not enough of anything.

Poverty has very little to do with merit, effort, or who you are as a person. Poverty does not care. Given the chance, poverty will eat you up regardless of how hard you work.

Thanet Creative have been encouraging people to engage in cooperative blogging. To start conversations. Let’s start a conversation about poverty – its a problem that will only grow the longer we refuse to talk about it.

Disagree with me if you need to, call me names, quote facts that I missed but let us talk about it. Maybe you have experienced poverty – tell us your story. Tell us via a submission to this blog, or better yet, on your own blog. But do tell your story.

We need to talk about poverty in Thanet.

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