In my hometown, Bolton, a shop recently opened that grabbed my attention. It was effectively a ‘clothes bank’, a clothes equivalent of a food bank. Bolton at Home, a socially inclusive housing association have taken it upon themselves to open the shop offering free clothes to people who can’t afford to buy them.
The welfare reforms continue to plunge numerous people, children and adults alike into poverty. People living on incomes beneath the ‘living wage’ are struggling to make ‘ends meat’ meaning not only are they struggling to pay household bills, and put food on the table but also struggling to clothe themselves.
Unfortunately the days of living in a socially inclusive society are long gone, at least for the time being. A definition of social inclusion:
“A socially inclusive society is defined as one where all people feel valued, their differences are respected, and their basic needs are met so they can live in dignity.”
Anyone studying sociology will describe a socially inclusive society as being one where certain rights should be made available to all individuals and groups in society, such as employment, adequate housing, health care, education and training.
The Trussell Trust recently reported an ‘escalating rise in food poverty’. Unfortunately things are much worse than this. When it comes to Maslow’s hierarchy of need, the physiological elements that everyone has a basic right to are being stripped away. The poor are continuing to get poorer. The consequence of people becoming reliant on hand outs and ‘gifts’ rather than receiving support as a ‘right’ is having an effect on peoples self worth with serious psychological implications. I have many first hand experiences of how this socially exclusive society that we now live in is leading to serious mental health related issues as general wellbeing and quality of life plunges resulting in further issues needing to be addressed which has a costly financial effect on society.
The physical and psychological repercussions on individuals as a result of the welfare reform are worrying. An increased number of people in the Northwest of England are malnourished, with anxiety and depression rapidly rising due to the situations that the poor are finding themselves in. I fear that the financial bill that public health we will be faced with in which to ‘fix’ the damage caused to the victims of the welfare reform will significantly outweigh the money that has been saved in order to reduce the financial deficit our country is in.
In the meantime it is down to forward thinking organisations like Bolton at Home to offer basic provision that enables all people to live with a level of dignity.
Click here for link for shop offering free clothes to those who can’t afford them:
(image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)