Tackling Poverty In The Heart Of London

17th October 2023

Child reading on doorstep


London Challenge Poverty Week (16th-20th October 2023) is an annual event that sheds light on this issue, encouraging collective action to address poverty and its various dimensions in one of the world’s most bustling cities.

What Does Poverty In London Look Like?

To effectively tackle poverty in London, it’s crucial to understand the complex landscape it presents. Poverty in this city takes on many forms, from income poverty to food insecurity and inadequate housing. The cost-of-living crisis has left many Londoners struggling to make ends meet. This challenge is not confined to any one demographic; it affects individuals and families from all walks of life. 

  • 25% of Londoners are living in poverty after housing costs
  • 33% of children in London are in poverty  
  • 22% of working-age adults in London are in poverty  
  • 23% of pension-age adults in London are in poverty (compared to an average of 18% for the rest of England)  
  • 27% – the increase in price that households in London with the lowest incomes would see if they were to buy the same goods and services as they did in the three years to March 2020

(London’s Cost of Living Tracker | Trust for London)  

What Is London Challenge Poverty Week?

London Challenge Poverty Week serves as a platform to raise awareness and mobilize communities, organizations, and policymakers to combat poverty in the city. It offers a space for dialogue, education, and collaboration among various stakeholders. The week aims to: 

  • Increase the visibility of the reality of poverty in London; 
  • Encourage positive debate and discussion about poverty; and 
  • Show what is being done to tackle poverty and call for the changes we need to end it. 

At Doorstep Library, we support the aims and values of London Challenge Poverty Week. As a children’s literacy charity working in disadvantaged areas of London, we see first-hand the impacts of not being able to afford the basics in life, and the impact that has on childhood and the life chances of children. 

How Does Doorstep Library Support London Challenge Poverty Week?

By visiting families in their homes, reading stories with children, and lending books, we aim to instil a love of reading for pleasure in the home environment, and to show parents how simple and enjoyable it can be to enjoy a story together. As a home-based service, we build trusting relationships with the families, and signpost services we think will be of benefit.

Over the past 18 months, we have seen increased requests for support around heating and electricity costs, accessing food and baby banks, and increasing concerns about the upcoming winter period. All these concerns add to the impact the pandemic has had on the mental health of both parents and children 

How Can We Help Address Poverty In London?

Addressing poverty in London is not without its challenges, but it’s a mission worth pursuing. Some key solutions and initiatives that have emerged include: 

Affordable Housing:

Increasing the supply of affordable housing and rent controls can help make living in London more affordable. 

Education and Skills Development:

Access to quality education and vocational training programs can empower individuals to secure better job opportunities. 

Income Support:

Expanding access to social welfare programs and ensuring a living wage for all workers is essential in reducing income poverty. 

Food Security:

Initiatives like food banks and community gardens play a crucial role in addressing food insecurity. 

Mental Health Support:

Poverty often takes a toll on mental health. Expanding access to mental health services and support is vital. 

While the challenges are significant, the commitment of individuals, communities, and organizations to address this issue is equally formidable. Together, they are working towards a more equitable and inclusive London, where poverty is not a barrier to a better life.  

Our amazing team of volunteers are determined to continue visiting children, to offer them and their families a weekly respite from some of the stresses, even just 10 minutes of escaping into a different world through a book can help, like most charities though, we can’t do it alone.   

There are lots of ways to get involved and show your support this week.