People are sharing the truth about extreme UK poverty as the mainstream media lets them down

Girl with her head in her hands and UN logo
Support us and go ad-free

On 5 November, Philip Alston – the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights – started an investigation into the impact of austerity and rising levels of poverty in the UK. While his visit has received some press coverage, many outlets continue to skirt around some of the most significant reasons for his visit. And much of the media seems to have conveniently ignored the fact that this is the fifth UN investigation under this Conservative government.

So on 6 November, people took part in a Twitterstorm, using the hashtag #UNVisit2018 to share the truth about life in austerity Britain.


For some, the basic facts about the UN visit were shocking enough:

But what also emerged in heartbreaking volume were the individual stories showing the impact of poverty on people across the UK. In some parts of the UK, over half the children live in poverty. So people shared stories about the very young:

And also older people:

The number of people needing to use foodbanks in the UK is shocking. Between April 2017 and March 2018, Trussell Trust food banks distributed over a million (1,332,952) three-day emergency food packages. And as the charity says, “484,026 of these went to children”.

As The Canary has been reporting for some time, Universal Credit is destroying lives. It’s one of the key areas of Alston’s investigation:

Meanwhile, rents have doubled in the past ten years. The numbers of homeless people have soared and some have died on the streets.

And Conservative policies are literally making people sick:

This Twitterstorm revealed the truth about life in Tory Britain.

What next?

It’s shocking that the situation is so dire that Alston is making this visit at all. But as Canary writer Steve Topple pointed out, the bigger question is whether the government will even listen to Alston’s recommendations:

Because as Topple pointed out, this isn’t the first set of UN recommendations to the UK. The Canary has reported that the UN has already produced four separate reports following investigations into UK human rights violations.

In the most recent of these, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) condemned the Conservative government for creating what it calls a “human catastrophe” in the UK. This followed a previous report which stated that the Tories had committed “grave” and “systematic” violations of human rights on British shores. And the UN accused the government of using a “smoke screen” and “misusing statistics” to try and cover its tracks.

Yet nothing changed. And here we are with another UN investigation.

But most of the mainstream media coverage around the UN investigation has been woeful. Parts of the right-wing media have chosen to focus on the UN ‘blasting Britain as racist’. And a recent Guardian report about Alston’s investigation failed to mention the UN’s previous investigations. Generally, there’s scarce mention that UK austerity breaks international law, according to some experts.

That this is the fifth UN investigation into the UK in just two years should be headline news. Thousands of people in the UK are subject to systematic human rights violations. Since the establishment media and government continue to ignore this, they should be very aware that the voices of the people affected are growing stronger every day.

Get Involved!

– Write to your MP, asking them to support and take action on the UN findings.

Featured image via Pixabay and  ONHCR

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed