The media rhetoric in austerity Britain has been to categorise the poor into deserving and undeserving, strivers and skivers, hard working and scrounging. Statistics are pumped out and marginal cases sensationalised to make it look like the benefit system is funding lavish lifestyles for many.
Poverty in the UK is complex and actually has four distinct elements – the obvious economic poverty; relational poverty where some lack a family or community support network to help; aspirational poverty where there is a lack of hope or capacity to extricate themselves from their current situation and then spiritual poverty – not knowing the God of our Lord Jesus Christ the glorious Father.
The Church has always been at the forefront of dealing with all those four types of poverty. Facing up to poverty individually and corporately is a complex business – it challenges our culture, lifestyles, busyness, assumptions and comfort zones. Some get angry and defensive, some give money and hope that is all that is required. Some are overcome with compassion and identification. Some get taken for a ride and some give until it hurts.
I do encourage you to buy and read “The myth of the undeserving poor” and think and pray how you individually and your Church community can help alleviate all poverty. It’s available online at The Myth of the Undeserving Poor – A Christian Response to Poverty in Britain Today
Andy Moyle, The Gateway Church