This show does not have to go on

Last week leaders from across the UK’s faith communities came together to support a letter to the Prime Minister, calling on her to act on her duty to deliver the SDGs. In this blog Emily Auckland, UKSSD's Network Director, challenges us all to use our voice to eradicate poverty in the UK.

If like me, you’ve got Brexit-fatigue, you’re probably asking, when will this all end? People are asking the same question regardless of their leave-remain, to re-vote or not to re-vote, to oust or not to oust position. And the reason is simple, it’s not just because we’re all fed up of hearing about it, it’s because regardless of what is happening politically, life continues. In its determined focus to get Brexit done and over with, the UK Government is failing in its duty to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the UK.

Last week leaders from across the UK’s faith communities came together to support a letter to the Prime Minister, calling on her to act on her duty to deliver the SDGs. The letter states that ‘progress is not being made quickly enough’ on this transformational agenda.

Faith actors are embedded in the hearts of our communities, they’re observing changes and trends that they do not like. They work to address local issues - from meals on wheels to community gardening projects - and can understand the local context in a way that many can’t. This show of force is a show of unity that change must happen soon in the UK.

People are suffering and that’s not good enough

It’s unlikely any of us are immune to what is happening to people in our communities. From homelessness, food-bank use and obesity, to knife crime and a floundering health service, things don’t look great.

After his recent visit, Professor Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, made a damning indictment of the UK Government and its failure to tackle the causes of poverty and inequality in the UK. The report goes on to state that 14 million live in poverty in the UK; that’s nearly 10% of the population. This isn’t new information, it was one of the most unpalatable parts of Measuring up, our report of how the UK is performing on SDGs, but Alston’s comments bring renewed focus to this issue.  

Every one of those 14 million is a person that is losing out on opportunities to live a fulfilling life. They’re living in poverty in a country that has both the means and the opportunity to do something about it, but it’s not. 

We have to do something about it

In his report, Professor Philip Alston went further, accusing the Government of being the one actor that ‘has stubbornly resisted seeing the situation for what it is’ on poverty in the UK. Perhaps a state of denial is not surprising given the volatile and divisive nature of our current political discourse. 

Regardless, if there’s one thing the SDGs remind us of, it’s that we each have a role to play in eradicating poverty because we can use our voice and hold our decision-makers to account.  

During this Brexit-dominated period in UK history, we have an opportunity, and an obligation, to say to our Government that the SDGs are an opportunity to create the change we want to see because this current situation cannot continue. We want them to properly commit to eradicating poverty. Faith leaders have stepped up to do this, will you?