November
20
2018
Author
Jubilee+ Team
"Punitive, mean-spirited, and callous"

At Jubilee+ we are blessed by the support, encouragement, prayers and guidance of our board of directors. These are people who are as passionate as we are about serving the poor and marginalised in our communities. 

The newest member of our board, John Evans, wrote a blog post this week about the recent visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, Professor Philip Alston, to the UK. Evans writes that he is "frankly, embarrassed" that Professor Alston felt the need to come to the country with the world's fifth largest economy, and is even more disturbed by what he found.

Evans writes:

During his investigation, Professor Philip Alston talked with people who depend on food banks and charities for their next meal, who are sleeping on friends’ couches because they are homeless and don’t have a safe place for their children to sleep, who have sold sex for money or shelter, children who are growing up in poverty unsure of their future, young people who feel gangs are the only way out of destitution, and people with disabilities who are being told they need to go back to work or lose support, against their doctor’s orders. 

...

Special Rapporteur Alston found that “British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous approach apparently designed to instill discipline where it is least useful, to impose a rigid order on the lives of those least capable of coping with today’s world, and elevating the goal of enforcing blind compliance over a genuine concern to improve the well-being of those at the lowest levels of British society.”

There was some light in the darkness, however:

Alston noted tremendous resilience, strength, and generosity, with neighbours supporting one another, councils seeking creative solutions, and charities stepping in to fill holes in government services. He also heard stories of deeply compassionate work coaches and of a regional Jobcentre director who had transformed the ethos in the relevant offices.

Individuals can still make a difference. And we know that individuals-plus-God can be even more effective both in catching those who fall through the holes in the safety net, and in working to prevent people from needing that safety net in the first place.

Evans concludes:

Philip Alston’s report is revealing and challenging. It reminds me that the need for the Church in the UK to be a champion of the poor and a means to healthy communities across the nation has not gone away. The heart of God is (and always has been) especially inclined towards the poor. His Church has a special responsibility not only to care for and empower those in need, but also to speak up on behalf of the voiceless.

You can read the full post here: Holes In The Safety Net

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Image credit: Rex Pickar on Unsplash