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From poverty to flourishing

The "From Poverty to Flourishing" campaign aims to put psychological evidence at the heart of action to tackle poverty and improve outcomes for children, families and communities.

Poverty is a systemic crisis in the UK, where an estimated 14.3 million people are living in poverty, and the coronavirus crisis will undoubtedly exacerbate this situation.

It is imperative that governments across the UK take action to address the challenge of poverty in the longer term. Psychological perspectives can help policy makers to understand when and how to intervene and how to meaningfully involve people in these decisions.

The current crisis means this has never been more important and our members are calling for governments across the UK to introduce a comprehensive cross-departmental anti-poverty strategy that aims to move people from being in poverty to flourishing.

The BPS is seeking to provide insight into the psychological impact of poverty and the ways in which psychological research can help to effectively reduce it.

Effective solutions exist, so the interventions we recommend are unlikely to be unique. But by helping to deepen policy-makers’ understanding of the psychological underpinnings of why they work, we hope to strengthen the case for implementing these interventions.

The briefing paper(s) presented here set out our intended approach to our campaign and the way in which psychology can help inform a more effective approach to developing policy that will tackle poverty.

Foundations for the best start in life

This briefing introduces two established psychological frameworks which, if embedded in wider social contexts, can increase policy makers’ understanding of how poverty affects people’s experiences and wellbeing.

The objective of this briefing is to help policy makers understand how poverty can diminish people’s ability to exercise agency and empowerment in their lives and to facilitate the development of policies which will empower those living in poverty to be able to ‘level up’.

Diminished levels of agency and empowerment can lead to a psychologically based poverty trap which inhibits the ability of people living in poverty to actively work to change their situation.

It is emphasised that the person living in poverty is not to blame for any reduction in their ability to exercise agency and empowerment.

A recurring theme in this briefing is that enhancing the agency and empowerment of people in situations of poverty is not only good for the psychological and material wellbeing of those individuals, but also constitutes a constructive and beneficial response for society as a whole.

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