SLRA and London Challenge Poverty week

#LNDChallengePoverty #povertyfreelondon #ifnotnowwhen

London Challenge Poverty Week is a London-wide campaign that aims to shine a light on the experiences of those living in poverty in the city, show what is being done at local level to tackle poverty and call for systemic change to end it.

Many of our group members were keen to use the #LDNChallengePoverty week to confront the injustice of poverty and its connections with hostile immigration policies. To do so, we discussed many ideas for small protests we might join or organize in central London. However, the reality is that for many of our group members, central London is a world away. They have no money for travel costs, they feel they have no right to participate and they’re afraid that making noise and asking for respect and justice might affect their immigration or asylum supplications.

That’s why we have decided to create our own ‘virtual’ protest! One that includes anyone who wishes to get involved. Our protesters will take their message ‘virtually’ to a different central London location each day of London Challenge Poverty week. 

Poverty rates in London are the highest in the UK, particularly amongst migrant communities. Emergency food parcel distribution has soared across the city and tens of thousands of children are homeless and living in temporary accommodation. Unsurprisingly, the Covid pandemic has only amplified the problem, with more people having died from the virus in deprived neighbourhoods than in more affluent ones.

Most of the people we support at SLRA are affected by NRPF (no recourse to public funds) which means that they are unable to access mainstream benefits due to their immigration status.  Many of these are families with young children who struggle with hardship and destitution and often face significant barriers to accessing support services. We want to help those who are affected to raise their voices and demand change and justice.

The government’s planned new immigration policies would push many more people into hardship, forcing them to rely on the help of friends or charities, without being able to access the advice and support they desperately need in order to move on from destitution and begin building settled lives.

Our SLRA community groups – a women’s empowerment group and a therapeutic group for men – have discussed the deep links between poverty and immigration policy and how this impacts racialized communities. We believe that at the heart of finding solutions is the need to highlight lived experiences and the voices of those directly affected by poverty. You can read more about our NRPF campaign work here.

More information on our social groups and classes can be found here.