Its election time and confronting the electorate are contrasting visions of what will best address the ills of society and provide most help for those in need.
For a charity there is statutory guidance on what campaigning you can do, during elections and generally: – Hope of course abides by this. It is important to have read and understood what this says. The guidance says:
“Campaigning and political activity can be legitimate and valuable activities for charities to undertake…” – but it can’t be the majority of what a charity does at all times. It’s a complex balance and each case needs to be judged on its detail.
Hope is a political body, in that its primary purpose is the alleviation of poverty and campaigning for action to tackle poverty is in line with that primary purpose and thus legitimate to do. We seek societal change to overcome poverty and seek to raise awareness of the causes and effects of poverty. Of course we are explicitly non-party political and do not have views aligned to any one party, nor campaign for the manifesto of any party.
Yet we believe in change: we believe in challenging the destructive, vicious damage poverty does to individuals and to communities, the undermining of social capital, the personal and tragic impact of poverty on people. We will campaign, alongside the vast majority of what we do in providing practical responses to mitigate the impact of poverty, for changes to policy and society that will ultimately make us redundant. We want to close, as no longer needed, and go away and do something else.
But this is not likely to happen anytime soon. The poor are (sadly) always with us, as somebody once said, and accordingly our job goes on, along the way calling to account any politician of any hue who fails to take meaningful steps, within the context of sensible, well thought out policies, to address and improve poverty.
So when you cast your vote in June, remember poverty. Remember the brutalising effect of poverty and homelessness on our clients lives and then onto society, and decide for yourselves which party or candidate has the best overall programme for creating the circumstances in which poverty, and homelessness will be overcome. Ask your politicians the questions you want answered about how they will reduce rough sleeping; scour their manifestos for answers; and look at the tools and resources we place on our social media to inform your queries. And after the election we will carry on doing so, whoever is elected: our activism continues. It’s part of Hope.