Let’s talk about poverty at 3Generate

19 October 2023

Can we make poverty history? This was the title of the workshop and a genuine question that millions of people are asking themselves. Aimed at 14 to 23 year-olds attending 3Generate, the Methodist Children and Youth Assembly that took place in Birmingham, the workshop was led by Annie Sharples, from the interfaith Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT).

“I attended this event because I thought poverty is an issue I want to understand and see tackled,” explains Cojo, one of the young people who went along. For Chidinma, another attendee, it was more about “Learning ways to support those who are struggling, especially those living in poverty”.

Rather than giving the young people a lesson, Annie starts with a quiz. How many people are suffering from poverty in the UK? How many children lived in poverty in 2022? Most of the young people got the answers right with 14.4 million people, so 28% of the population, meaning one child out of four is in poverty.

 “A quarter of each classroom in the UK lives in poverty, it's such a large number! It means that kids hide the fact that they struggle and they have to go through the whole school day, knowing they'll go hungry, which is immensely sad,” sums up Cojo.

Poverty is not just about parents going to food banks, it's affecting children and young people. Life is getting worse, so if society does not change, then each generation will be affected more than the previous one. “Things need to change, children and young people have a really important powerful voice to change it,” believes Annie.

Out of the population, 88 percent think we need to do more and it is the overwhelming response in the room.  Chidinma said, “Given that the UK is the world’s sixth biggest economy, a lot more should be done. It doesn't seem right that so many people live in strife. I think we need more discussion and deliberation on how we can help the people who are struggling?”

During the last part of the workshop, Annie mentions the 2024 General Election, “Maybe you can’t vote but you can make your voices heard.” The young people in the room eagerly write on the postcards and send them to their local MPs.

Cojo adds, “I will raise the issue to my MP more often. I already give to my local food bank, but I would rather not do this. We need to accept that the food banks represent how much we have failed as a country.” Vee, who also attended, said, “The event inspired me to get involved more with politics locally, because those are the people who can really make a change.”

On Saturday 14 October 2023, JPIT launched a new campaign, Let's End Poverty. “It's about creating and rallying a movement of people to campaign effectively in their local areas and constituencies to then effect bigger and more national change,” explains Annie. One of JPIT’s hopes for society is that the most marginalized people become at the centre of society.