How many of us, when we hear the word ‘poverty’, see a montage of Christian Aid / Save The Children / Compassion adverts in glorious technicolor, bringing a tear to our eyes and tugging gently on our heartstrings?

How many of us, when we hear the word ‘poverty’, are transported to a barren wasteland in some far-off corner of Africa with a name we couldn’t possibly pronounce? How many of us, when we hear the word ‘poverty’, assume that our generous sentiment will solve the problem and bring joy to a disadvantaged child?

On the flip side, how many of us associate poverty with the 33% of children in Glasgow who do not have enough money to fulfil their basic needs? How many of us associate poverty with homeless beggars on the streets of Aberdeen? How many of us associate poverty with the one in five children in Scotland who currently live below the poverty line?

These figures are shocking. They’re horrific, they’re heart-breaking and very, very close to home. Think about the village or town or city in which you live. Then, think about the surrounding villages, towns and cities around you. Think about the people who live in these places right on your doorstep who have no money, no chances and no hope. They need hope. They deserve hope.

And that’s what we can give them. When walking among the people of Earth, Jesus spent the vast majority of his time with those excluded from society: the beggars, the tax collectors, the prostitutes. How many of us have crossed the road before we find ourselves confronted by a homeless person reminding us of the morality and selflessness we are to display? I think it would be true to say that we often find it difficult to retain the Christ-like mentality when the whole concept of poverty is surrounded by such a stigma. Society looks at the needy, and blames their problems on inability, bad luck, or just plain laziness.

Jesus came into this world so that we can bring hope. 1 Corinthians 12:12 says, “the human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ”. As such, we are called to be the physical representation of Jesus on this earth – and that means mixing with those whom society would deem undesirable. Prayer and the power of contribution are the best ways we can emulate this behavior and opinion, but there is a larger problem we need to dedicate our prayers to. Yes, poverty and all the pain and suffering which accompanies it should be our primary concern when thinking about this topic, but the only way we can hope to tackle the issue in its entirety is to remove the stigma people in this situation face. Poverty isn’t just for the lazy benefit scroungers. Poverty doesn’t just affect the unemployed; it affects hard-working families too.

They need our help. They need your help.

Our prayers, support and encouragement speaks volumes to the world around us about Jesus and the love he showed to people even the lowest in society.

I’d really appreciate it if you would take a couple of minutes out of your day to complete the very short questionnaire I have made about the themes of this blog post. I can then take these responses back to the Scottish Youth Parliament and they will help form our ideas for how to tackle poverty in society today. Thank you!

Poverty: See it, Change it.

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