This week is London Challenge Poverty Week

This week is London Challenge Poverty Week. In amongst all the concern about the COVID second wave it can be easy to lose sight of some of the deeply entrenched issues that affect many Londoners. It is estimated that 700,000 children in London live in poverty. In the boroughs that ELBA serves, two report over 50% of children living in households below the poverty line, after housing costs, and in our other boroughs the stat is 1 in 10 or above. We also have some very high rates of pensioner poverty, with Tower Hamlets having the highest rate in the country.

London Challenge Poverty Week sets out to highlight this issue – nobody wants to live in a society where parents have to turn to food banks to feed their children, but for lots of families in our city, this is a reality every day. It doesn’t have to be like this though. Everyone, from national and local governments and the Mayor, to employers and local communities, has a role to play.

ELBA business and community supporters have been working together to tackle poverty in all its forms for over 30 years, and it has been truly heartening to see just how everyone has stepped up even more during the COVID crisis to provide extra help for those in most need. Addressing poverty is a long term effort though, and this week we will be highlighting how we can work with businesses and the community to firstly relieve poverty, and secondly address some of the underlying causes:

  • Immediate relief – via support for food banks, support for the elderly and, coming shortly, the annual Toy Appeal. Many thanks to everyone who is supporting these efforts.
  • Supporting young people in education – giving a young person the essential skills and pathway to a better career is one of the most effective ways to help families out of poverty.
  • Opening up jobs and opportunities to progress to people from less advantaged backgrounds. Many ELBA business partners have shown great examples of trying to widen the profile of the people they recruit and promote, but many of us are also recognising that more could and should be done.
  • Digital poverty has emerged as an increasing phenomenon during the COVID period. Lack of access to devices, connections and data, and having the right skills is much more prevalent among poorer households. There is a lot of work underway at the moment in all sectors and we have a great team from Morgan Stanley working with ELBA at present to help us develop ideas about how the business community can play a part.

Poverty is not inevitable in a wealthy nation like ours. We need to not be downhearted but determined – there are things we can and are doing. We have practical suggestions and activities we can offer for those wishing to do more – do get in touch if you’d like to get involved.

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