Sadly, many individuals, families and children, despite living in what is considered one of the more affluent areas of the UK, will be struggling to make ends meet this month. Recent studies by the council have identified Twerton as the most deprived area in B&NES, where more than one third of children live in poverty. Radstock follows closely with a figure of exactly one in three, whereas Keynsham has over one in four. Overall, the evidence shows that those living in poorer areas and in poor households across B&NES have experienced a decrease in their wealth levels over the past few years, whereas those in more affluent areas have, quite simply, got richer.
This worsening wealth gap has been exacerbated by rising house prices (now 12 times average earnings) and reflected in the growth of personal debt levels, which are some of the worst in the UK. It is not surprising then, that Bath Foodbank reported a 13% increase in the amount of people, many families with young children, requesting emergency food parcels last year.
It is not just structural factors that cause ‘hidden poverty’ or ‘relative poverty’ however. Paul, head of our Pathways program, works closely with many of the people who have a history of under or unemployment, are badly in debt, and have experienced destructive relationship breakdowns, caused or exacerbated by money worries at home. “The people we help come to us with a mixture of issues caused by social structures, upbringing, and people’s own decision making around their personal resources. Part of what we do is to work with what people have, help them identify their goals and aspirations, and then support them practically in that journey”.
Many of the people we work with feel their lives have got out of control and frequently experience feelings of marginalisation and insecurity. We are here to help them get back on their feet via our ten interlinking projects. We provide one-to-one coaching, workshops and courses to give people the confidence and skills needed to move forward in their lives, affordable furniture for poorer households, work experience opportunities for people struggling to access the labour market, and mentoring for local families experiencing a range of financial and social issues.
It is our hope that by addressing the key areas of vulnerability and disadvantage effecting poverty in B&NES, we can help every person in our community get a fair chance in life.
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