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Together Middlesbrough tackles poverty
5:13pm Thursday 3rd October 2013 in News
POOR people are being ‘demonised, marginalised and stigmatised’ claimed Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald, speaking at a Christian conference focusing on poverty in the town.
With unemployment at twice the national average and child poverty third highest in the country, vulnerable residents are struggling to cope with welfare reforms against a backdrop of low income, delegates heard at the Together Middlesbrough event.
Mr McDonald, said “If you can work you should but if there are no jobs it’s up to the government to do something about it. It is my belief that we have a duty of care for the vulnerable, the homeless and the hungry.
“Middlesbrough has appeared at the top of too many league tables of despair. It is the poorest and most disadvantaged who are being demonised and marginalised and stigmatised as skivers. The truth is, people are relying on foodbanks and there are homes with no carpets.
“We are forcing people into the jaws of loan sharks and we are disrespecting them in the process,” he told more than 150 people in the Trinity Centre, North Ormesby, at the conference opened by the Right Reverend Terence P Drainey, Bishop of Middlesbrough.
However,at the Conservative Party conference this week Prime Minister David Cameron pledged that reforms to the economy, welfare and schools will ensure that everyone, regardless of where they live or their background, will have ‘the chance to make it’.
“You don’t help people by leaving them stuck on welfare, but by helping them stand on their own two feet.
"Why? Because the best way out of poverty is work – and the dignity that brings,” he said.
Heather Black, development officer for Together Middlesbrough, a joint venture between Church Urban Fund and the Diocese of York, presented a ‘Faith in Action’ survey which revealed that local churches and Christian projects were active in their local communities, staffed by more than 1,000 volunteers.
Dr Paul Crawshaw said the perception that the unemployed were ‘feckless skivers’ was a myth, findings echoed recently by Professors Rob MacDonald and Tracy Shildrick, also from Teesside University.
“The majority of working age people in Middlesbrough do work, it’s the kind of work that people find themselves in that’s the issue – low paid and part-time,” he said.
*Cleveland Police is urging struggling parents across Teesside to seek help rather than turning to crime to feed their families.
In September police were called to 75 incidents of shoplifting, with items taken including bread, cheese and washing powder.
Officers are investigating an incident at a supermarket in Yarm last month when a woman and child left with a full unpaid trolley including nappies, meat and other food.
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