Society’s most vulnerable people in a ‘fragile’ state

Many of society’s most vulnerable people have been left in a ‘fragile’ state by the economic downturn and cuts to public services and benefits, according to a new study.

Researchers examined the lives of around 100 vulnerable people living in one north London borough. They used focus groups, face-to-face interviews and ethnographic studies in which researchers shadowed residents for a day. They focused on three groups: disabled residents and carers, young people, and families on low incomes.

Key findings

  • There is a collective sense of fear and anxiety about what the future holds. The vast majority believe the situation will get worse before it gets better, yet many feel they are already at breaking point.
  • The vast majority of people have been affected not by just one cut, but by several, usually a combination of national and local.
  • Feelings and fear of isolation and loneliness are at the core of many people’s concerns about the cuts – for both themselves and their loved ones.
  • People feel victimised by sudden and imposed changes to their day-to-day lives, exacerbated by a lack of knowledge or confidence in knowing how to challenge the situation.
  • There is a mix of frustration, understanding, blame and empathy for the council and other local public service providers. Residents are angry at central government over decisions to cuts benefits and local government funding. Others voice frustration over the ‘Big Society’ agenda, where volunteers are expected to take over the running of services.

Source: Mhairi Aylott, Will Norman, Catherine Russell and Vicki Sellick, An Insight into the Impact of the Cuts on Some of the Most Vulnerable in Camden, London Borough of Camden
Links: Report | Guardian report

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