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Anti-poverty campaigners in Malta to document experiences

Fourth of EU population at risk of poverty

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

A bus full of anti-poverty campaigners touring the EU arrived in Malta this week as part of Europe-wide information gathering mission.

The European Minimum Income Journey, organised by the European Anti-Poverty Network, is documenting experiences of anti-poverty workers and campaigners across the EU, in a bid to lobby policy makers for adequate minimum income schemes.

Some 119 million people, or around a quarter of the EU population, are at risk of poverty.

Savior Grima, the chairman of Malta’s Anti Poverty Network, told the Times of Malta that the EU initiative had collaborated with 13 Maltese NGOs which had provided the “Maltese perspective on the issue of poverty”.

Two buses left from Belgium some three weeks ago and have been traveling across the entire EU.

Anna Vanlanker, the project’s policy coordinator, said the two-month journey was about gaining as broad an understanding of the European poverty problem as possible.

A report on every member state would be drafted as well as an overall report on the situation.

Laura Sullivan, an Irish member of the touring bus, said she had been struck by the contradictions that seemed to be a running theme in most member states.

These ranged from misguided notions that migrants stole locals’ jobs, or the idea that poor people did not want to work.

“What we found was that the opposite is true - most people do want to work, to feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment,” she said.

One of the more striking ideas that came out of the tour so far, Ms Sullivan said, was for all political representatives to work as volunteers in poor or homeless shelters prior to taking up office.

From Malta, the bus will be heading back to Sicily before crossing over to Greece heading up to the Balkans.

 

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