Doherty backs calls for Anti-Poverty Strategy

poverty Paul Doherty Anti-Poverty Strategy

SDLP councillor Paul Doherty has supported calls for the introduction of an Anti-Poverty Strategy for the North.

Councillor Doherty took part in an event to discuss the urgent need for the strategy at Stormont on Wednesday.

He is the founder of community solidarity organisation and foodbank Foodstock, based in west Belfast.

Councillor Doherty said:

“Every single day I see first-hand how poverty is impacting people in west Belfast and right across our city. At Foodstock we do what we can, including delivering hundreds of food parcels to those in need every week, recycling school uniforms so that no family has to struggle or get themselves into debt so their child can access a decent education and offer a range of classes and services that help people stay happy and healthy. Without the community sector I have no idea where these people would turn.

“One in six people in the North are currently facing hunger and my community has the highest number of children living in poverty. After housing costs, over a quarter - 28.5% - of children in west Belfast are living in a household that struggles to meet their basic needs. This has not happened overnight, it has come about due to decades of neglect, political failure and the lack of a plan to tackle the issues that people are facing. The problems families are facing have only gotten worse with cost of living crisis making things extremely difficult, with more and more finding it impossible to make ends meet.

“An Anti-Poverty Strategy was a key commitment in the New Decade, New Approach agreement, and like so many other important initiatives it has fallen by the wayside due to the DUP’s Stormont boycott. Make no mistake that the lack of a government is causing real suffering in communities across the North.

“If we are ever going to tackle the societal issues that have led to this widespread poverty then we need a properly resourced long-term strategy in place that addresses issues like a lack of jobs and investment, educational underachievement and a lack of suitable housing, while supporting people struggling with poor physical and mental health and addiction issues. This strategy should be a key priority for every politician and party in the North and I will keep working both on the ground and at council to support those who are struggling.”

Font size