Living in poverty is universally linked with feelings of shame, according to an Oxford University study featured in a new film.
Researchers (led by Professor Robert Walker) examined attitudes to poverty in culturally different societies across the world. In the film, called Rich Man, Poor Man, people from poor and rich backgrounds in four countries (Pakistan, Uganda, UK and South Korea) talk candidly about their lives and what they think of people living in poverty.
In the UK, the experiences of two families living on different incomes are compared. The Bridglands are a family of three with their own house in Guildford with a weekly family income of £800. Meanwhile, the Mayes family of six live in a council house in Guildford and survive on weekly benefits of £372. In the film, self-employed Paul Bridgland says: 'It may sound a little unfair but for a large number of people who are in a bad situation financially, it is ultimately of their own making. It is up to them. Anyone can start doing something, start selling bottle-tops or whatever and start turning a profit. It just requires the effort'. Tammy Mayes says she feels stigmatised because her family relies on benefits: 'It's not a case of us wanting to be on benefits – circumstances caused it. My husband was working when we started having children. We struggle with food; we have to use food banks. We have to work out every single bit of money that's coming in'.
The film was shown on the Community Channel on 22 and 23 March.
Source: Press release 20 March 2014, University of Oxford
Links: Oxford University press release