If we can all take one action against poverty we can make a big difference in our community.
1) Be Prophetic: Prophet Muhammad, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, said “Do not turn away a poor man, Aisha, even if all you can give is half a date. If you love the poor and bring them near you, Aisha, Allah will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” (Hadith Tirmidi) Lady Aisha, May Allah be pleased with her, narrated: “We slaughtered a sheep and gave away most of it. I told the Prophet, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, only a small piece was left. He, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, then said in all his wisdom, “All of it is remaining (through charity) but that piece.” (Hadith Tirmidi)
2) Pray: Take a moment and pray for those who are living in poverty in our community and around the world. “Supplication is the weapon of the believer, the pillar of religion, and a light of the Heavens and the earth.” (Al-Ḥākim) Prophet Muhammad, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, said: “The dua of a Muslim for his brothers in his absence is readily accepted, an angel is appointed to his side, whenever he makes a beneficial dua for his brother, the angel says, ‘Ameen’, and May you be blessed with the same”. [Sahih Muslim]
3) Smile: Often people who are living below the poverty line find themselves living in isolation. Human connection isn’t everything they need, but it’s a gift we can all give. There is great wisdom in the Prophet Muhammad’s, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, words: “Smiling in the face of your brother is charity.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhî ) And indeed, the Prophet, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, followed this advice in his everyday life, so much so that `Abd Allah b. al-Hârith said: “I have never seen anyone more in the habit of smiling than Allah’s Messenger.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhî) Prophet Muhammad, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, was asked was asked about the best actions and he replied: “Feeding the hungry, and saying salaam to those you know and those you don’t know.” (Hadith Bukhari and Muslim)
4) Educate Yourself: By reading and educating yourself, you can strengthen your understanding of local and global poverty issues.
5) Donate: You can donate food, money, clothing, toiletry items, old furniture and toys.
6) Increase urban farming/gardening initiatives to create more food independence for individuals and the community as a whole.
7) Set-up a community food bank or support an existing food bank by distributing local top-quality fresh produce.
8) Ethical purchasing: It involves asking yourself questions about the products that you buy, and if you canʼt work out the answer, asking shop-keepers and companies themselves. Here are a few of the issues you should be thinking about:
– Decent wages / prices. Are the people who made/grew the product getting a fair price for their work?
– Decent conditions. Are people working decent hours in a safe environment without harassment or discrimination?
– Business in the community. Does the business youʼre buying from uphold the rights of locals and work with them to improve their community?
9) Start a winter shelter for homeless people so no one has to sleep on the streets during the cold winter months.
10) Volunteer: You can volunteer with kids, families, the elderly, the disabled, the homeless, women, and the mentally ill; in shelters, soup kitchens, community centre, after school programs, and employment centres.
11) There are a number of different local and national campaigns that you can join to help combat poverty. Even better, you can ask your place of worship, youth group, community centre, workplace, or school to do the same.
A key cause of poverty is low wages. You can support the Living Wage Campaign: http://www.livingwage.org.uk
12) Develop a local programme to promote healthy eating. Inequalities in people’s diets can result in inequalities in people’s health. Those on low incomes suffer from poor diets, as evidenced by lower fruit and vegetable intakes, and a higher prevalence of dental caries among children. They are also disproportionately affected by the major killer diseases. You can provide training and assist people by promoting smarter shopping, wiser menu preparations, and greater nutritional awareness.
13) Set-up a Youth programme that focuses the critical needs of at risk and economically disadvantaged teens, providing them with learning opportunities for them to earn, learn and achieve success in school and in life.
14) Provide workshops and individual counselling on budgeting and income management skills.
15) Set-up a clothing bank to serve your local community especially homeless people during winter.
16) Plan a community fundraising day to raise funds for local organisations that support people living in poverty. Here are some ideas: Bring and buy sale – Sell donated goods on a stall. Cakes, books, home-made jam, bric-a-brac and fairtrade goods. Family fun day – Arrange a fun day full of the activities like a bouncy castle, stalls, competitions, fun fair, etc. A charity football/cricket match.
17) Organise a community presentation to increase awareness of local and global poverty issues
18) Reach out to your neighbour: You may know of a neighbour who needs some support, maybe their circumstances have changed and have found themselves struggling financially. You could cook them a nice meal or even buy them some groceries.
19) Start a community network which bridges relationships across religions, race and class lines to take action together addressing concerns that impact people in poverty and throughout the entire community.
20) Start a community kitchen/cafe which provides meals for the homeless and low cost meals for low income families
21) Offer community-based job and skills training to help brings families out of poverty.
A man of the Ansar came to the Prophet, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, and begged from him. He (the Prophet) asked: Have you nothing in your house? He replied: Yes, a piece of cloth, a part of which we wear and a part of which we spread (on the ground), and a wooden bowl from which we drink water. He said: Bring them to me. He then brought these articles to him, and he (the Prophet) took them in his hands and asked: Who will buy these? A man said: I shall offer to buy them for one dirham. He said twice or thrice: Who will offer more than one dirham? Another man said: I shall buy them for offered and bought them for two dirhams. He gave the two dirhams to him and took the two dirhams and, giving them to the owner Ansari, he and said: Buy food with one dirham for your family, and buy an axe with the second dirham, and bring it to me. The Ansar brought the axe to the Messenger of Allah, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, who fixed a handle on it with his own hands and said: Go, gather firewood and sell it, and do not let me see you for a fortnight. The man went away, and gathered firewood and sold it. When he had earned ten dirhams, he came to the prophet and told him that he had bought a garment with some of them and food with his earnings the others. (Hadith Abu Dawud)
22) There’s risk of the NHS becoming a two tier Health Service – one tier for those who can pay, and one tier for those who can’t. You can campaign against local cuts, privatisation of local services or financially driven closures. You can lobby your MP and councillors to protect our NHS from cuts and privatisation. Also, join with others from unions, patients’ groups and anti-cuts campaigners in your area.
23) Set-up crisis and emergency accommodation for individuals and families who have become homeless. Living on the street makes homeless people more vulnerable to abuse. Homelessness tears families apart. Being without a home takes a terrible toll on children. They are also more likely to be depressed, anxious, or withdrawn, and have more difficulty in school than their peers. Homeless adults are also at greater risk for serious health conditions.
24) Start a street outreach team which engages with homeless adults and families living on the streets. A Street Outreach provides emergency assistance and /or referrals to community support services. A Street Outreach worker and volunteer provides food, clothing, transportation assistance, and emotional aid so that the well-being of the homeless is immediately addressed.
25) Teach your children about poverty. Taking time to explain poverty and showing practical ways to help can teach children to understand poverty better. Giving our children an understanding of poverty at an early age will make them citizens who are deeply concerned for the world’s poor and committed to making the planet a better place for all, ridding it of poverty.
26) Organise a free weekly/monthly three course meal for people living in poverty and help reduce social isolation. Bring people together from all walks of life to enjoy a meal in a warm and welcoming environment.
27) Start a microfinance scheme which provides small loans to poor people who lack financial collateral, or simply the means, to take out a bank loan. A Pakistan-based organisation called Akhuwat runs an interest free microfinance scheme which has helped over 50,000 people in the last eight years. . Akhuwat’s model is based on an Islamic tradition called ‘Qarz-e-Hassn’, which entails helping the needy with an interest free loan as opposed to charity. http://akhuwat.org.pk/
28) Set-up free or low cost social events where people of similar interests can meet and socialise – art, book club, sports, sewing etc.
29) Organise an experience to help you and others understand what it feels like to live in poverty – homeless for a day or live below the poverty line for a week etc.
30) Buy Fairtrade goods. Fairtrade certified products cover clothes (cotton), food (eg. chocolate, fruit, honey) and drinks (eg. coffee, tea, wine and spirits), so we can make the choice to support economically disadvantaged producers in nearly every purchase we make. The Fairtrade Foundation has a full list of the products covered by Fairtrade certification on their website
In buying Fairtrade products, you’re not just supporting farmers, you’re sending a message loud and clear to companies that you care where your products come from.
31) Engage with people who are living in poverty. The people directly affected by the problems or issues of poverty in the community have to be actively and authentically participating in the efforts to fight poverty. They need to become part of the process of addressing and resolving their problems. It is more effective when issues and problems are identified by the people. They then begin to gain self-confidence and acquire capabilities in working together on simple issues and problems.
32) Start a Giving Circle to fund local organisations. Giving Circles are groups of individuals who pool their donations so that they can have a greater impact.
33) Use your local media – Television, Newspapers and social media – Facebook, Twitter to raise awareness of poverty issues in your community.
34) Support your local or family-owned business. Small businesses keep communities together, while also pumping money back into the community and ultimately fighting poverty.
35) Carry out research to get a true poverty picture in your community. This will make it easier for you to:
– identify groups of residents or neighbourhoods with the highest concentrations and/or depths of poverty that may require extra attention in your work.
– demonstrate the thoroughness and credibility of your work to the broader community – making it easier to mobilize support for your poverty reduction efforts.
– create a base of information that can be used to educate the broader local public on the extent and nature of poverty in your community.
36) Meals on wheels service: An increasing number of older people are living below the poverty line and are often isolated. A meals on wheels service will provide essential support to older people when they can no longer cook for themselves and also provide them with social support.
37) Start a food redistribution scheme to redistribute surplus food from shops, supermarkets, cafes, restaurants etc. to day centres and hostels for the homeless.
38) Contact your local MP and Councillor: Lobby your local politicians to bring about action and start to take poverty seriously.
39) Engage and connect with local businesses or organisations to create employment/volunteer opportunities to help reduce poverty in your community
40) Start your own local charity fund which benefits local individuals and families who are in need of support and financial assistance.
*Thank you to everyone who sent me your suggestions*