Just a minute: What can those on the frontline do to tackle poverty

Guddi Singh


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you may be aware that we are in the midst of a cost of living crisis. Families across the UK are being squeezed as everything from energy bills to grocery shopping have soared in price.
Politicians try to evade the issue by blaming the war in Ukraine for pushing up prices globally. Experts, however, say the crisis was building long before the invasion.

Britain is heading for the worst fall in living standards since the 1950s, with1.3 million people facing “absolute poverty”. But don't forget: 4 million children in the UK were already in poverty by 2020. The UK’s so-called ‘cost of living crisis’ is really part of a wider social, economic and political emergency: more like a "crisis of inequality".   The differences we see in health, wealth and power are not simply an imbalance, or the result of a passive natural process; rather, they are the product of unjust and unfair political and social processes. Processes that have put profit ahead of people, private wealth ahead of state or common ownership and the class interests of a privileged few ahead of those of wider society.

What does this all mean for kids’ doctors like me?
It means seeing the effects of poverty and deprivation in ever more of the children that come to our hospitals and clinics. It means being faced with malnutrition, more infections and delayed development - all of which could have been preventable. It means sending kids home to the very conditions that made them sick in the first place. It's tough facing this on the front line. Tired and under-resourced, health workers up and down the country want to help, but don't know what they can do. That's why we formed WHAM. WHAM stands for the Wellbeing Health Action Movement, it is a movement to inform, empower and unite clinicians who fight child poverty and health inequality. It's a ‘social incubator’ for conscious clinicians who fight for social justice. Our aim is to provide Knowledge, Tools and Community, and we do that through a digital platform provides peer-to- peer sharing of practical wisdom to address health inequalities. We want to help in the here and now. Take our 1 minute tool to help start meaningful conversations around the Cost of Living Crisis; developed from our resources on our website, the tool can be used by any healthcare professional nationally and provides you with the questions to ask and the resources to give to your patients.

Please share this with any professionals - in health, education, or social work- who encounter families in their jobs who might benefit from our resources. We know it's not the solution, but the first step to tackling poverty and inequality is talking about it.