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King's University College out to make a difference with Poverty Research Centre

There are high ideals and big hopes.

And everyone’s determined to make a difference, speakers said as they launched the new Poverty Research Centre at King’s University College on Tuesday.

The aim is to end poverty, by taking a good hard look at it. Armed with robust new research, agencies and campaigners will be able to seek action from government, and those with money available to help. will be able to set priorities according to where money is needed most.

It’s happening because of $250,000 from the London Community Foundation, funding work within eight of the nine faculties at King’s.

The potential is “direct impact to make a difference,” said volunteer Michelle Hurtubuise, with ready availability of the research to those who need it and a focus on the issues that matter most.

But leave your politics at the door, added Sister Sue Wilson of the Sisters of St. Joseph, who stressed that “poverty is human-made”.

“We all have our own understanding of the causes of poverty and we tend to fall into different political camps along the political spectrum when we talk about the issues,” she said.

Wilson added: “We need to get beyond the polarization that generate apathy, as well as negative stereotypes about people who live in poverty.”

Perhaps the most impassioned speaker was Glen Pearson, the former London MP who is co-executive director of the London Food Bank.

He said a key element of the research centre will be speaking directly with people affected by poverty.

“It’s about what these people themselves have to say about their lives,” Pearson said. “It’s about them talking with us and driving research about their own experience.”

He called those people the “victims of poor policy decisions” and said he’d been unhappy while an MP about the tendency of politicians to talk but achieve nothing.

“This poverty research centre is going to achieve in the next year more than I accomplished in five years at the House of Commons and in the Shadow Cabinet,” he said.

At a glance

— Partners include the London Food Bank, Sisters of St. Joseph, London Community Foundation and other volunteers.

— The task force setting up the centre has included Michelle Hurtubuise of the London InterCommunity Health Centre and Sean Quigley of community group Emerging Leaders.

— Also at the launch event were students from John Paul II Secondary School’s social justice club, who have been adding their opinions as the research centre has been set up.

— The research done will focus on three areas: precarious work, with poor conditions, limited hours and other problems; food security, including the problem of prices; and mental health and homelessness.

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