Charities 'must address stereotypes' of UK poor

Charity campaigners are failing to get a true picture of poverty in the UK across to people, a Fabian Society report has concluded.

The left-wing think tank said campaigners must do more to address the negative stereotypes surrounding poor people in Britain.

Although campaigns such as Make Poverty History have brought concern for the poor overseas, organisations such as Barnardo's have focused on severe deprivation rather than the more general poverty that blights lives, the think tank said.

"The extension of our sympathies across the globe decreases the visibility of deprivation in Britain, as it is felt that 'real poverty' only exists in places such as Sudan or Ethiopia," said Sunder Katwala, general secretary of the Fabian Society.

Richard Brooks, the society's research director, said tackling the low awareness of poverty in the UK was a great challenge for the voluntary sector. "Barnardo's Silver Spoon campaign is shocking, but there is a much more complex task than showing pictures of babies," he said. "Relative poverty is harder to represent, but it affects more children and should matter as much as severe deprivation."

Published last week by Mori, the report Life Chances: What do the Public Really Think About Poverty? shows that the majority of poor people in the UK are perceived as lazy.

"Tackling public misconceptions is essential," said Barrow Cadbury Trust director Sukhvinder Stubbs.

Victor Adebowale, chief executive of social care charity Turning Point, said: "This isn't just down to the work of the campaigning groups concerned.

You need to ask 'what are the media doing about it?'"

No one at Barnardo's was available for comment.

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