I’ve never really understood our society’s obsession with poverty porn, the exploitation of the poor to gain publicity, attention or entertainment, sometimes for a charitable cause.

What is it about looking at someone else’s misfortune that can give us a self-esteem boost to make us feel superior, maybe even happier about our own lives?

The infamous Benefit Street — a controversial documentary about the lives of residents who lived on a street I used to live on in Birmingham — exploited its cast to gain high viewing figures.

Jeremy Kyle, also, is a classic example of poverty porn; its ‘chav’ hating format has become a household name on daytime TV.

And celebrity fronted charity appeals such as Comic Relief have recently come under criticism from MP David Lammy for continuing to perpetuate ‘tired and unhelpful stereotypes.’ It doesn’t seem that poverty porn will be going away anytime soon.

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It’s set to go one step further when later this month a fully interactive immersive ‘poverty experience’ is due to come to my home of Birmingham.

Run by Christian child development charity Compassion UK, it states its visitors can enjoy a family friendly experience, the sights, sounds and smells of which are comparable to life in poverty in a developing country.

Ironically, there is little compassion or empathy in showcasing a poverty safari to an area of Birmingham that, according to a report written by the Campaign to End Child Poverty, has the highest percentage of poverty in the country.

These children are already living it and experience it day in and day out. This wouldn’t be an experience but more familiar to their everyday lives and is quite ill thought out and lacking empathy.

It has therefore justifiably received backlash from ordinary Brummies who have called it out explaining that poverty is not for entertainment and stating that it doesn’t belong in Birmingham, where you could walk up many streets and witness poverty.

The whole experience is, in my opinion, grim; it makes me feel uneasy and doesn’t inspire hope at all.

As a councillor in Birmingham and a volunteer in my local food bank I support residents who are living in extreme poverty week in week out.

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My email inbox is full of people crying out for support and my advice surgeries are just as busy. Austerity is taking its toll on many in this country and preventing them having freedom or the ability to make meaningful choices in their lives.

A home visit last week saw a single mum who had fled domestic violence living in a damp house with a broken boiler unable to feed her children as her universal credit payment had not yet come through.

As I left the house after dropping off a food parcel and some clothes for her children I cried, even though stories like this are not unique. She doesn’t need to visit a poverty experience; poverty is already her life and it’s heart breaking.

Summer holidays, which are meant to be a fun and exciting time for children, can be a source of dread for low income parents who worry how they will afford extra food now they can’t rely on free school meals, let alone extra childcare expenses or money for days out.

Last summer I had mums in tears as they visited me to get support with new school uniforms. Holiday hunger kitchens, such as the Ladywood Project, are a common feature across Birmingham.

They try their best to fill the gap taking some of the pressures off parents, providing lunches as well as vouchers for gas and electric during the holiday period.

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Interactive poverty isn’t entertainment. This voyeurism shouldn’t make us feel good about ourselves when so many of our citizens in Birmingham are struggling themselves.

Perhaps Compassion UK should rethink their poverty safari truck and perhaps donate the money that would be used to commission the project to grassroots action working on the ground to eradicate poverty – there are many in Birmingham that need every penny.

Under this government’s austerity project it’s only going to get worse.

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