People Living in Poverty On What They Can't Live Without

The 'Picture Britain: Our people, our poverty' exhibition celebrates the resilience of those swept into poverty.
Nana Baah
London, GB
February 20, 2020, 9:30am
Steve Arnott Picture Britain
Steve. All photos courtesy of The Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 

One in five people in the UK are living in poverty, according to this year's monitoring report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). The study by JRF – an independent social change organisation working to solve UK poverty – also shows that around 56 percent of people living in poverty are in a working family, compared to 39 percent 20 years ago.

Today, "Picture Britain: Our people, our poverty" – an exhibition commissioned by JRF – opens in London, before touring the UK and being released as a book. It features over 20 photographs of people who have been affected by the rising levels of poverty in Britain, and aims – according to the JRF – "to shift the narrative around poverty by highlighting all we have in common, whatever our economic circumstances".

Photographer Jillian Edelstein and journalist Stephen Armstrong spoke to people from all walks of life while creating the series. There's Micah Lammie, who works at Brixton Soup Kitchen as centre manager, offering food and legal advice to rough sleepers; Sharon Darley, an artist, who helps residents from an estate in Hull paint their blocks; and Abiodun Abiola Akinola, who was fired from a large London hospital for complaining about bullying.

Regardless of where they're from or what they've been through, they were all asked the same question: "What could you not live without?" Below is a selection of portraits of the contributors with their handwritten answers to the question.

Abi Picture Britain: Our People, Our Poverty


Georgina Picture Britain: Our People, Our Poverty


James M Picture Britain: Our People, Our Poverty

James M.

Joy Pocock Picture Britain: Our People, Our Poverty


Mary Picture Britain: Our People, Our Poverty


Micah Lammie


Sharon Picture Britain: Our People, Our Poverty


Stephen Picture Britain: Our People, Our Poverty


Picture Britain: Our people, our poverty runs from Thursday the 20th of February until the 7th of March at Market Hall, Borough Market, 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL.