One of my enduring memories from 36 years of involvement in the social services is the sight, smell and sound of poverty during the six years my office opened into a foodbank reception area. It has given me a rather special and privileged contact with the people that some describe as ‘not getting ahead in life’, and as being part of a culture of dependency. The daily aura of poverty and despair is tangible to workers and clients alike. So is the power of the human spirit and the tenacity and guts of people, particularly women, in the face of adversity.
What I have learnt is that living without adequate income and being blamed in the process is debilitating, demoralising and degrading particularly when combined with some of the many challenges that life throws at us, like poor mental or physical health, relationship problems, grief or trauma.