‘How the other half live’ fails to tackle real issues

From the makers of ‘Secret Millionaire’, ‘How the other half live’ is Channel 4’s new program dealing with poverty in the UK. Each week a rich family looks at the life of a poor family and at the end of the program gives a certain amount of money or ‘sponsorship’ to that family.

The makers of  ‘How the other half live‘ may have had the best intentions in the world with this program, asking the viewer to explore the gap between rich and poor, highlighting the poverty that exists in UK and encouraging people to be as generous with those who need help in this country as they are with those abroad, but it is still, as Keith Watson put it in the Metro  ‘patronising‘ and astonishingly contrived.

Instead of looking at the general picture of poverty in this country it focuses on a handful of ‘lucky’ people who are to become the benefactors of a handful of wealthy patrons. This view makes each episode an almost Dickensian style story of the hopeless poor being rescued by the good-hearted rich.

Having a nice easy solution at the end of each program, where a single familie’s problems are solved by a cheque book, actually masks the real issue of the thousands of other families who continue to live in poverty. It also fosters the idea that poverty is a personal issue to be solved by wealthy individuals rather than a societal issue to be dealt with by all.

What do you think?

Are these programs helping or hindering those in poverty?

What is wrong with rich people adopting poor families?

To find out about Spectacle’s Poverty and the media project please visit our Project Page

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Being seen and getting heard: Joseph Rowntree Report

Joseph Rowntree has published a report examining  how people with direct experience of poverty in the UK can have a more effective voice in the media. Presentation of their views and experiences through media channels and help to shape and develop public opinion and build support for action to combat poverty.

Key points raised in report:

  • Poverty is generally under-reported in the media. If more people with experience of the everyday realities of poverty were given a voice in the media, this would enhance public understanding of poverty in the UK.
  • When journalists write stories about poverty they usually want case studies – people who can talk about their experience of living on a low income. This provides an important opportunity for people living in poverty to tell their stories.
  • The internet provides new opportunities for self-expression. People can send emails, develop websites, write blogs and upload sound, stills and video clips.
  • An online audience could be developed by setting up a web portal to provide a reliable resource of material from people with experience of poverty. This would also be a focus for debate. A demonstration project with a specific community could test the potential of internet media to develop awareness of poverty issues.

To download a full copy of this report please visit our Poverty and the Media Resources and Download Page

To watch clips from Spectacle’s Poverty and the media project please visit our Project Page

Alternatively footage can also be found in our Archive

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Changing face of poverty

Save the Children recently announced it would be giving emergency cash grants to families in poverty due a massive increase in food prices and worrying increase in malnutrition amongst babies and pregnant women. These families are not the ones that Save the Children normally deal with, they are not in refugee camps or war-zones but in cities and towns across the UK.

With the recession taking hold unemployment has soared and so has the price of food; according to the Guardian the cost of food rose by 11.3% in the year to February, and within that the cost of vegetables has risen by 18.6%. This is leading to new levels of poverty amongst children and families in Britain say Save the Children.

Save the Children argue that many people are facing terrible problems with debt, not because they are frivolous as suggested by some of the media but because they have had to rely on credit for basic essentials. Now the safety net of easy credit has been removed people find they are stuck with high repayments and no new income and end up cutting their food budgets to compensate.

With organisations like Save the Children and Oxfam turning their attention to the UK’s poor is it time we changed our perception of what poverty looks like?

Does the media do enough to let us know about poverty on our own doorstep?

Is it easier to pretend poverty only exists in foreign countries?

For more clips from our Poverty and  The Media project please visit our Archive

To find out more information about our Poverty and The Media project please visit our Project Page



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London Social Forum – Sripriya Sudhakar

Sripriya Sudhakar (an architect from India) talks about urban design taking place in London in comparison to India. Sripriya expresses her views on; utopia, sustainability, social exclusion, poverty in London compared to India and lastly planning for a better London.

To watch the interview click below:

London Social Forum – Sripriya Sudhakar Interview

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