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Poverty and social participation

The pursuit of a society that is inclusive for all

Poverty is a lack of financial resources needed to participate fully in society. Poverty entangles people in a web of exclusion in other spheres, including housing, education, social relations, mobility and health.

The consequences that can be seen with the naked eye are also referred to as the 'outer face of poverty'. But poverty is also a matter of the inside, of feelings, of behaviour and of thoughts. These are invisible consequences that have a great impact because they make it impossible for people to escape from poverty on their own initiative.

Why is it so difficult to escape poverty?

Although poverty is more than a lack of income, the importance of a decent income cannot be overemphasised. Having to make ends meet with (too) little money leads to chronic stress, lack of resources and problems with physical and mental health. All of this, in turn, has a negative impact on our ability to think. This makes it more difficult, for example, to control impulses and to plan ahead.

Thus, people in poverty often end up in a vicious circle that is difficult to break on their own.

Rij dominosteentjes, met een aankomende vinger die het eerste steentje gaat omduwen

Preventing and combating poverty

So what needs to be done to combat, or rather, prevent poverty? In our view, effective poverty reduction starts with ensuring a decent income, but policies must address all aspects of life and all levels of government must work together to achieve this.

That is why we are supporting the various governments in their efforts to develop effective policies. We believe that each level of government has an important role to play and that progress can only be made by working together.

We support local governments in the development of social policies at the local level. For the Flemish government we developed policy indicators to monitor poverty, and for the federal level we map the effectiveness of minimum income protection. In addition, we develop and evaluate practical tools and methodologies that can be used by social workers and policy makers in the prevention and alleviation of poverty.

Wegwijzers naar verschillende richtingen, tegen een achtergrond van een kleurrijke zonsondergang

Impact realization

We are firm believers in making an impact and in making an impact visible. This is why we have developed the Social Balance, a tool that allows you to map and monitor the living conditions of individuals and families. With the Social Balance, the social worker and the client analyse the current living situation and determine which areas of life need priority attention. This helps in the formulation of objectives and the implementation of targeted assistance. With the Social Balance, we promote an integrated, stress-sensitive and goal-oriented approach to assistance.

For social workers who want to know more, we are developing a training programme that will teach them all the tricks of the impact evaluation trade. In this way, they will be able to get down to work themselves and assess the impact of their organisation. With the results, they will be able to improve their operations and make an even greater impact.

Scherp vooraan een hand met daarin een dartpijl, onscherp op de achtergrond een felbelicht dartbord.

Read more about poverty

View our publications on poverty

Tools poverty

Projects poverty