Every attitude, every gesture has to fight poverty and exclusion. There are many ways to act, regardless of our skills and availability. These messages, these testimonials reflect. Feel free to contribute.

Testimonies are published under the responsibility of the author. They are subject to validation: these will be published only if they comply, in form and substance the spirit of this day as defined in the International Charter for October 17.


United States

Building a world leaving no one behind, is building a world for everyone

Good Morning everybody. Today I pay tribute to the courage, tenacity and hope of Ms. Yolanda A. a native of New Orleans. Ms. Yolanda is 41 yrs. old, a mother and of six children: three daughters and three sons.

Talking about “Joining our voices – building a world leaving (that leaves) no one behind,” You added, “I am joining my voice today with all mothers that struggle in everyday life to raise their family. Building a world leaving no one behind, is building a world for everyone. I guess I had (have) been left behind a long time ago.”

Ms. Yolanda, you are usually a quiet person, and you don’t need lots of words to express yourself. “Building a world for everyone” says a lot about your life and your family’s. You had been homeless for many years and had been waiting for a long time to get access to an affordable house for your family. The day you left the office of the Housing Authority of New Orleans with your housing voucher in your hands, you had a big smile on your face, and you said to me, “Looks like today I won a lottery! It has been years I waited for my house. It has been a struggle to move from one place to another with my children. My children are growing big, and I needed a safe place for them to stay. That’s why they could not learn at school. My son D. and my daughter got always suspended at school. I had spent my time going back and forth to court, to school. I lost my job when I lost my house. Since Hurricane Katrina I applied for a voucher. I was all the time on their waiting list. The last time I went to check, they said they had sent me a letter which I never received. I did call them many times, and they never responded to my call. I was discouraged! I was crying. I had moved my children so many times and I could not take it anymore. I am happy today to finally get a chance to be in a house again. I will restart anew. Now I have to find money to furnish my house. All of my belongings that was in storage was taken away because I could no longer pay for the storage. They have auctioned my furniture. But you know those are materials; I will find new one.”

As many families, living in persistent poverty in New Orleans, finding affordable housing is becoming more and more difficult. Due to the lack of decent affordable housing, families are scattered, separated and broken. Children are more than disturbed with (distracted from) their education, and our youth are disoriented. Gentrification creates more and more isolation of families living in persistent poverty. More and more families living in persistent poverty in New Orleans are pushed out to the outskirts of the cities where access to basic needs is denied to them. Building a world that leaves no one behind is to take into consideration the experiences of those who deal with keeping their family together safely in everyday life.

Ms. Yolanda A
United Kingdom

We shouldn't be treated as a number but as a person.

16 October 2016 - London

This year's 17 October theme is:

Moving from humiliation and exclusion to participation: Ending poverty in all its forms

The International Committee for 17 October wrote a document where they explained in more detail why the theme was chosen this year. It highlights how important it is to recognise and address the humiliation and exclusion endured by many people living in poverty.

An extract from this document mentions about people having to “endure with rude, demeaning, condescending or judgemental behaviour on the part of social assistance office staff”.

I've had that several times from the job centre. My job advisor, in her eyes, thought I wasn't doing enough to look for jobs and would regularly tell me I would get sanctioned.

You can do job searches online or at the job centre. You can do it on your phone if you've got wifi, if not it will eat up your phone credit. A lot of people do the searches at the job centre, I saw that when I had to do work experience there. Many don't know how to do it properly, I ended up helping them with the computers. I also helped them to fill in their benefit forms. A lot of people will struggle with the Universal Credit's forms.

I applied for a job recently and I didn't go to the interview because I found out it was for an agency. I've had bad experiences with agencies in the past, where I've worked and not got paid. So I ended up getting sanctioned from July to October. Luckily I found a job with another agency. Yes, I ended up going with another agency but I had to otherwise I would have been evicted from my flat. My benefits have been stopped because of this sanction.

I have to apply for jobs that I know I can't even do because of my health. Often, you apply for jobs and never hear anything back. I was shocked when within minutes of applying online for my current job, that I was offered an interview. I found out it was with an agency but they have been good with me up to now.

I was sanctioned a couple of years ago when I was on the job centre's work programme. They told me that they had sent me a letter and a text about an appointment. I never received either and they didn't believe me. I got a letter telling me that they would be stopping my benefit for a month.

I had to phone up the Council's emergency service. They put me in touch with a foodbank and credit union to get money for my electricity. I was surprised they gave me cash for my electric, I was really tempted to spend it on something to eat but I used it for electricity. Any other money I had went on my oyster card to get around. I was lucky that a local cafe gave me credit so I could eat. I felt bad though that I wasn't able to pay for my meals. I saw all the other customers pay for their own food.

I've never received help for getting to job interviews or money for clothes, the job centre say they can help with this but they never do. I have asked several times about it. Now I can apply for universal credit, but my shifts at my new job in the train station mean its been hard to sort out. I hope my sanction won't get in the way of this. I'm waiting until my sanction ends before applying so nothing will go wrong.

I like working in customer service at the train station, I never thought I would ever say that I enjoy working. I like earning my own money so I don't have to worry. I enjoy getting paid weekly.

My induction for this new job was on the same day that I had to sign on for the last time. My job advisor said I needed to leave the induction early. I told them it was my induction but they said I needed to come and sign on. When I got to the job centre and explained again that it was actually my induction day, they said “why didn't you tell us? We could have automatically signed you on”. I did tell them, you feel like you are banging your head on a brick wall. I thought the job centre was there to help us but they make things harder and harder.

Another extract from this document says:

“An important commitment is to honour the human dignity of people living in poverty and to fight to end the discrimination humiliation and social exclusion they suffer.”

You get people treating people in poverty as stupid with no brains. It's nice for people in poverty to get their point across and be listened to. This time next year, I would love to not be claiming benefits. I know I'll have to watch what I spend. I want to have a job and earn money. You feel really small when you go to the job centre, it's like you are begging.

They always ask for your national insurance number. They need to make things more human, we shouldn't be treated as a number but as a person. You have to apply for jobs you can't do, to keep people happy. People are under so much pressure, it's wrong.

Recently my housing association organised for me to have new windows. I was working at the train station, and had to tell the window company to come another day. I was so grateful that they rearranged the time and date. I could have cried because they were so helpful and understanding. I thought, my god someone actually cares. If I could I would have taken the lady on the phone flowers and chocolates to say thank you. I don't come across many people like this, I really appreciated this kind gesture.

Thank you for coming and listening.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
United Kingdom

Poverty – it is important to understand that there is no single definition of poverty.

Let me tell you – testimonies

Glasgow, Scotland

Testimony 1

Food poverty, humiliation and loss of dignity of accessing food banks is a modern scourge on society. When the Scottish government set up the Good Food Nation it was put to them that “Scotland cannot be a Good Food Nation when people are in food poverty and are unable to feed themselves”. The Poverty Truth Commission was asked to nominate a food poverty representative as a commissioner. From this a short life working group was set up to look at the dignity of food and as an alternative to food banks. With one of the recommendations being put to the Scottish government is to ensure the 'Right to food' in Scots Law, making it a Human Right. A 'Four Food Fund' has been implemented to combat food poverty with an emphasis being on food dignity and community inclusion. The Poverty Truth Commission's motto is “nothing about us, without us, is for us” and we will continue to engage in all work that challenges human rights.

Testimony 2

Poverty is a complex phenomenon. It is caused by a range of factors – low wages, living on benefits, being one parent families. There is a stigma attached to one parent families. Parents find it almost impossible to get affordable childcare. Living on benefits is a struggle for most people - no money for proper food, heating of homes and if there are children, the cost of school uniforms are a burden on benefits and having to tell your child they have to get the cheapest item of clothing and footwear. Other children can be so cruel. Every child deserves a childhood without money worries.

Poverty – it is important to understand that there is no single definition of poverty. The children are excluded from activities and opportunities that others enjoy.

Testimony 3

Poverty Truth Commission brings people together from all walks of life, civil servants, doctors, MSPs, people of all faiths and creeds – but most of all, people in poverty.

Those in poverty share their stories with the other commissioners who listen and learn what it is like to be on the breadline. The most important part of the commission is that a person in poverty is given a voice, most importantly their dignity.

People in the commission take away they stories they have heard and shared. Those in poverty feel they are not alone. When we walk in the door, we are all one, with one aim to give them back their dignity.

Testimony 4

I want to start with a bit about myself. I'm a mother and grandmother. I don't work due to ill health. I'm concerned about what is happening to people, especially families with all these cuts to benefits. People who live in poverty are being blamed for their situation.

I want to tell you a story about a girl standing with her wee boy at the school gates, looking for someone she can borrow 50p off. Reason being its dress down day and if she can't pay the 50p her wee boy can't go to school. Think about how mortifying that young lassie must feel having to borrow 50p! Things like this are happening more often.

The nursery snack/toy fund is £3 per week, double if you have another child in nursery. That is £24 a month! With the cost of hiring and frozen benefits, how is anybody supposed to find that kind of spare money.

With the added pressure when you have kids. It takes you back to the Thatcher days. It's not changed from the 80's till now and we need to make a change by standing together and standing strong. Not to fight the system on their own. Let's gather together I beg you so no-one is left behind.

Testimony 5

Song by Dr Southkat


No cool neighbours/no real family/no friends I can depend on/

No free rides/no cigarettes/just a graveyard plot/one day to lie in/

No talk time/no spare change/no rubber cheques/not in the post/

No rich muckers/no charity/the best I've known/appear as ghosts/

Nice to nice/but please think twice/when you're handing over your cash/

Come tomorrow/skag is king/or frosty jack/or pills or hash/

Spend all you got/in a corner shop/sunday morning/there is no tick/

They'll laugh at you/spit on the ground/despise you/when you're sick.


No thievery/no bribery/no begging/no blackmail/

No promises/no let you downs/no cheating hands/and no damn lying.


They patronise you/overcharge you/don't pay you respect/send mad letters/

Pay dividends/to murderers/worship fondly/death and hate/

Swear to god/life's killing us/let's fight it/before it's too late/

Swear my friend/life's doing you in/let's make it work/never too late.

Testimonies from Glasgow, Scotland
United Kingdom

Food poverty and the humiliation and loss of dignity of accessing foodbanks is a modern scurge on society.

Let me tell you – testimony

Glasgow, Scotland

October 17, 2016

Food poverty and the humiliation and loss of dignity of accessing foodbanks is a modern scurge on society. When the Scottish Government set up its Good Food Nation, it was put to them that “Scotland cannot be a good food nation when people are in food poverty and unable to feed themselves.” The Poverty Truth Commission was asked to nominate a food poverty representative as a comissioner. From this a short life working group was set up to look at the Dignity of food and alternatives to food banks with one of the recommendations being put to Scottish Government to “enshrine the ‘Right to Food’ ” in Scots law, making it a Human Right. A ‘Fair Food Fund’ has also been implemented to combat food poverty with the emphasis being on Food Dignity and community inclusion.

The Poverty Truth Commission motto is “nothing about us, without us, is for us and we will continue to engage in all work that challenges human rights.

Caroline from Glasgow, Scotland
United Kingdom

It is a time to think about those more disadvantaged than ourselves and put ourselves in their shoes.

16 October, London

Hello. My name is Amanda.

On 17 October 1987, ATD Fourth World was at the heart of the laying of a Commemorative Stone honouring the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger in Paris.

Five years later, the United Nations recognised 17 October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

Since then, more than forty similar Commemorative Stones have been laid around the world, from the European Parliament in Brussels to the Gardens of the United Nations in New York City.

Each stone bears the words of Joseph Wresinski, the founder of the International Movement ATD Fourth World: "Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty."

The day is important to me because it is a way to keep poverty in the public eye. It reminds us all that people in poverty should not be forgotten about.

It is a time to think about those more disadvantaged than ourselves and put ourselves in their shoes.

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty tells us that if we fight poverty together then we can take a step forward for everybody together.

Thank you.

Poverty = Discrimination: Live music with a message