A News Article by Zara Garrido Jimenez
The Queen’s death has made many locals reflect on how London treats its citizens. Gun salutes in Hyde Park, bells ringing throughout the country, flags flying at half-mast, and the gathering of hundreds of thousands of people to pay their tributes to the Queen is something many would expect after the death of the monarch, but what many didn’t foresee is how people living in poverty would be effected.
Approximately 14.5 million people in the UK (22%) are currently living in poverty. According to a report released back in 2021 by Trussell Trust, it is estimated that 2.5% of all households in the country rely on food banks due to various factors such as rocketing food, fuel, and electricity costs, as well as the lasting effect of the pandemic. The new cost of living crises will push even more people to the brink of homelessness, rates which have been increasing rapidly since 2020.
On the 19th of September, the day of the funeral, many food banks announced that they were going to close for the day in order to ‘pay their respects’ to the Queen. Countless people were left in a state of desperation. Johannah Hervonto (23), who works with charities, states: “Food is a necessity, a human right and it should be available for everyone, every day, no matter what”.
She elaborates: “When food banks and soup kitchens close for one day, we are showing the world that homeless and low-income individuals and their needs don’t actually matter… the government is stating that they don’t prioritize the wellbeing of their citizens.”
Even though the precise amount spent on the Queen’s funeral hasn’t been disclosed, it is estimated that figure stands between 8 to 9 million pounds and, as stated in the Evening Standard, by the end of it all the Queen’s death will have cost billions. A cost that will ultimately be split between the Royal Household, the Government and the British public.
“We live in a country with rapidly rising homelessness rates, with a government that votes against giving free-school meals to children of low-income families, where there is a current cost-of-living crisis meaning many won’t be able to heat their homes or pay their bills this winter. To know that millions have been spent for this funeral is a spit in the face of those who are struggling to survive in this country”, states Camila Jimenez (27), a London resident.
Those who waited in queues upwards of twelve hours to pay their respects to the Queen lying in state were met with more support than people who are homeless. They were provided with blankets to keep warm, free water, medical attention if needed, and even some train companies left their trains open overnight for them to sleep in if they missed their last train home.
All in all, although Her Majesty The Queen’s death signifies the end of an era for many, for people living in poverty conditions, it meant being ignored for days.