‘Poverty’ is obviously a relative word. In some parts of the world, it means that you may well not live to see tomorrow. In the western world, whilst poverty may not have such immediate and shocking results, there are still people who live on incomes which barely allow them to keep warm and fed.
In a prosperous town such as Reading, the divide is quite noticeable. Jobs generally pay well, house prices have soared, and the price of food has sadly soared.
In contrast, a single parent family surviving on state benefit can afford none of the luxuries which they see around them every day.
Sometimes this is the fault of the individual who has chosen to spend their money unwisely, but more often, it is a combination of factors outside of their control which causes their descent into poverty.
For example, local shops generally charge more than the large supermarkets, but without transport local shops is where the shopping has to be done. Most have gas cards and electric keys, which is generally the most expensive way to buy fuel, even though they are paying in advance for their gas and electric whilst most of us pay our bills in arrears. An inability to provide their children with all the things that they see on television or that their friends may have, means that many go into debt to try and fulfil what they see as their children’s needs especially around Christmas time. The debt they get into is often at interest rates which are absolutely appalling. Whilst most of us may get a bank loan at up to 10% or so, some of these families are paying loans with interest of perhaps as much as 50% or more. Pay day loans have only added to the problem.
So yes, poverty does exists, even in a prosperous town such as Reading, and we are doing what we can to try and help those struggling with such issues.