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Child Poverty the Vicious Circle

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

By Olivia Bell

Poverty does not exist in a vacuum and those experiencing poverty are often blamed for the situation they find themselves in. Given the current cost of living crisis, we need to ask; why does poverty persist?


Growing up in the seventies was a challenging time. In a household with five children, a father working deep sea, who was often away for months at a time. My mother had a part-time job and tried her hardest to raise five young children on her own, paying bills and trying to make ends meet until the next wage packet. There wasn’t much food at all, and my grandmother would often visit with a bag of groceries, to make sure that we had food in our bellies.

I remember feeling ignored by other children in the playground. Being poor compared to other kids meant you got left out and left alone to get on with your own thing. Others would blame and shame you for being poor, making you feel isolated and not being worthy enough. This filled me with anxiety and a deep sense of loneliness. Feeling all those negative emotions has a knock-on effect, which can follow you for the rest of your life and results in you blaming yourself for the situation you’re in.

Nothing seems to have changed, if you compare the seventies to the present day, thousands of families are still going without. The rising cost of household bills has left many families poverty-stricken, not knowing where their next meal is coming from. Even after all these years, people are on minimum pay and zero-hour contracts. It is not just those receiving benefits that need extra help, working people need assistance and are relying increasingly on food banks, which is reminiscent of what my grandmother provided for us as a growing family.

Many people make assumptions about people in poverty, believing them to be lazy, have made bad choices, they’re on drugs and are single parents. Yet, when I was growing up both my parents worked, and we still had no money. Attention should be targeted at the external factors of why people are in poverty in the first place. Benefit cuts, zero-hour contracts, rising living costs, and low wages are just a few things that can cause national precarity.

Further complications have derived from this despair, as mental health issues have increased dramatically. So, making negative comments about others for ‘their hard luck’ won’t see them climb out of poverty. Sometimes people need a helping hand. What would be more helpful is if people showed empathy and supported those who are experiencing a challenging time in their lives.

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