What is Poverty?

12 Jun

What flashes into your mind when you hear the word poverty? Dirty children scrabbling through rubbish heaps, poor Africans living in mud shelters? I have a friend who is currently living and working in Zambia, and I know that she could sum up poverty perfectly, because she sees it every day. People who are devastated by AIDs and who just have absolutely nothing to their name (except beaming smiles and a great sense of humour – it’s funny how the poorest people are often the happiest isn’t it?).


Anyway, I was reading the Guardian yesterday and apparently we live under the poverty threshold for the UK, which frankly I find crazy, and set me thinking, what is poverty?

I couldn’t remember the figure that the Guardian stated, but according to ‘The Poverty Site’ (2005/06 figures) the poverty threshold for a couple with no dependant children is £182 a week. Josh and I currently live on around £120 a week (or £96 in a 5 week month) which puts us quite a long way under the threshold. However, I would not consider us to live in poverty on any level. We can afford to eat local organic food, we have more possessions than we need, a car, a lovely flat and we live in one of the most beautiful places in Wales.

Fair enough a lot of the ‘stuff’ we have were gifts, like wedding presents, and I do believe that God has provided us with money when we’ve really needed it and prayed about it (like the time we got £200 anonymously through the post when we were worried because we couldn’t afford to get Christmas presents – awesome!) but that doesn’t really mean that we haven’t been able to afford to live on what we earn.

Food and fuel costs are rising and we are having to make more cutbacks, but I still wouldn’t count myself living in poverty because I have to cut down on my car useage, stop going to the cinema so often, or stop eating luxury snacks or whatever.


Now, Josh is a Student and I am a volunteer, we have a few savings, and unless God decides he wants us to go on working for a church, or sends us to Peru or something, we pretty much know that in the future our earnings will rise. I can understand that for people that constantly earn less than the poverty threshold, the future must look bleak and the prospect of buying a house, for example would seem out of reach. But perhaps we should still try and get it all into perspective. The world poverty threshold is something like a $1 a day – these people have nothing. Maybe we can’t afford the latest gadgets, or the best clothes but compared to them we are millionaires, I think we need to get our priorities right.


Or am I totally wrong and do I just have my middle-class head up in the clouds? What do you think?


One Response to “What is Poverty?”

  1. Linda R July 24, 2008 at 9:51 am #

    HI. Have just found this via a search for blogs that mentioned Pembrokeshire – glad you enjoyed your holiday, yes it is beautiful, and set to become quite full this year with tourists not going abroad. Oh well, the perils of being a born and bred ‘local’.
    I totally agree with you about poverty. Most people have completely lost the plot on this. There are times when I enjoy a good spend, but I always know how fortunate I am that there is food in the cupboard, heat and lighting, hot water (my personal weakness!) etc. When I do spend on something that I consider non-essential, say a few new clothes, I also give 10% to charity.
    With about 30yrs on you from the sound of things, I can tell you this – your finances will go in cycles. There will be periods in your lives when you feel relatively well off, and others whether by intention (buying a house, children) or circumstances outside your control, money will be tighter. From the sound of it you are laying down very sensible foundations.
    I love the blog by the way – keep it up. Linda

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