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Real poverty is here too
11:40am Friday 20th July 2012 in Letters
I read Basildon Council is to set its agenda to cut services. Chief executive Bala Mahendran said “in Sri Lanka there is real poverty”. I worked as a welfare rights adviser, helping people claim benefits.
On one occasion, I visited a man in Thurrock . Aged 85, he had suffered with dementia for many years, had no family, and only thanks to his neighbour were we alerted to him. The front door was ajar and the odour from the flat was suffocating. His clothing was badly soiled and he gave me the facts as to his financial situation as best he could. It was evident he could be entitled to £125 extra a week. This was backdated for six weeks, to £800. During the course of my interview a doctor arrived who diagnosed severe dehydration. In the photograph on his mantelpiece there was a handsome, well-groomed man. Seeing him then I could see how we as a society had let him down, allowing him to fester in squalor thanks to politicians who allowed the rich to get rich and left the poor to their own devices. What infuriated me was how, without my help, he may have been subjected to appaling squalor and needless anxiety. Of course, the question is just how many like him, to quote words of Mahendran, are living in “real poverty”, and should be claiming benefits, yet are either too embarrassed, ignorant or incapable of doing it.
If the Government targets the needy, it will lose what little respect it earns from the electorate.
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