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Haverhill charity REACH Community Projects says rising poverty levels are a ‘damning indictment’ of UK after release of Joseph Rowntree Foundation report





A Haverhill-based charity that works to prevent and help people in financial hardship has bemoaned the levels of UK poverty revealed by a new study as ‘tear-jerking’.

REACH Community Projects believes the contents of the study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), UK Poverty 2024 – The Essential Guide to Understanding Poverty in the UK, mirror the current issues it sees in the Haverhill area.

One of the most striking statistics is that 22 per cent of people in the UK were in poverty in 2021/22, that’s 14.4 million people of whom 4.2 million were children, 8.1 million working adults and 2.1 million pensioners.

Henry Wilson MBE, the CEO at REACH Community Projects in Haverhill
Henry Wilson MBE, the CEO at REACH Community Projects in Haverhill

REACH CEO Henry Wilson said: “We have been anticipating this report but absolutely not looking forward to reading what is contained within.

“It makes awful and tear-jerking reading and is a pretty damming indictment of the social failure in the UK over many, many decades.

“It’s the job of REACH to tackle this situation with all the energy we can muster.”

REACH takes its budgeting advice into schools.Contributed picture
REACH takes its budgeting advice into schools.Contributed picture

The JRF data also shows a 148 per cent rise over five years of people living in poverty, to nearly four million, one million of them children, three times as many as in 2017.

One of the major targets of REACH, which runs Haverhill Foodbank, is to deliver essential support to needy families and put in place measures aimed at poverty prevention.

These include budgeting, money skills and cooking education, which is now being provided through schools and other groups.

Another very concerning finding of the JRF report is the extent to which hardship is deepening.

Classes on how to cook cheap, healthy meals, run by Ashdon Catering, are one of the projects provided by REACH Community Projects.Contributed picture
Classes on how to cook cheap, healthy meals, run by Ashdon Catering, are one of the projects provided by REACH Community Projects.Contributed picture

In 2021-22, the poorest families had an average income almost 60 per cent below the poverty line and the average earnings required just to reach the poverty line, was equivalent, for a family with two primary-school-aged children, to £12,800 per year.

REACH works from its original base in Haverhill, throughout west Suffolk, south Cambridgeshire and north Essex.