Deep Poverty Network (Derin Yoksulluk Ağı) received grant support from our Deep Poverty Action Fund to deliver vital necessities and social support to families in need as part of the fight against deep poverty in Turkey. The Mobile Food Bank project, implemented within the Support Foundation for Civil Society’s Cemre Fund, was a joint initiative of the Deep Poverty Network and the Basic Needs Association.
Read below our interview:
Our followers are already familiar with the Deep Poverty Network. Which issues will the Deep Poverty Network prioritise in the coming period? Can you tell us about your advocacy activities?
We are working to identify rights violations suffered by people who cannot access their fundamental rights and needs. We aim to expand our cooperation with civil society organisations (CSOs) and stakeholders to support people’s access to fundamental rights such as nutrition, housing, education, and health. We will continue to focus on making rights violations visible. At the same time, we will continue our media monitoring activities to contribute to the elimination of prejudices against people living in poverty.
You recently published the Media Agenda on Poverty report. Can you tell us about the report’s prominent findings? How is poverty portrayed in the media?
Since our inception, we have endeavoured to make the reflections of poverty in people’s lives visible through research reports, books, stories, etc. It was crucial for us to conceptualise deep poverty and relate it to the issue of access to fundamental rights. However, when we examined the portrayal of poverty in the media, we saw that it focuses mostly on economic indicators and excludes and/or blames the poor. Even if the target audiences change, print and digital media shape the perception and opinion of their readers. In recent years, the increase in poverty due to the pandemic and the economic crisis has increased the news about methods of combating poverty. So, we started a media monitoring study to review the news about poverty.
For 8 months, we regularly delivered the families 1,360 food packages which were provided by TIDER.
According to our media monitoring, news on poverty included discourses that distract from the reality of the issue, portray people as helpless and weak, and try to mobilise the readers’ emotions. On the one hand, these discourses affect one’s ability to obtain objective information on the causes and impact of poverty, and people’s struggle against poverty. On the other hand, they also shape the perceptions regarding the people living in poverty and render rights violations invisible. This way, poverty is seen as an individual problem and detached from its political and social context.
With the grant support we provided through our Deep Poverty Action Fund, you implemented the Mobile Food Bank project in collaboration with the Basic Needs Association (Temel İhtiyaç Derneği – TİDER). Can you tell us about the project’s activities and the contributions of your collaboration with TIDER to your work?
We had the opportunity to work together with TIDER for a year. Our work focused on access to fundamental rights. We identified which basic rights and public services adults and children in the neighbourhoods we worked in could not access. We also identified the needs of individuals in these neighbourhoods and contacted the relevant institutions to find solutions. Within the scope of our collaboration with the Faculty of Law at Özyeğin University, final-year students, accompanied by mentor lawyers, prepared information notes, organised workshops and provided legal counselling.
One of the pillars of the project was to inform the families about social support mechanisms and follow up on their applications. We conducted interviews with one adult from each of the 380 households. In the first six months of the project, we conducted preliminary interviews, while in the second six months, we visited the households identified as vulnerable, conducted risk analyses, and provided support.
In cooperation with TOKTUT, we provided 11,000 lunches to students, while at the same time advocating for children’s access to safe food.
To support people’s access to public resources, referrals were made to Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) and the Social Service Centres. We provided information on IBB’s services such as food cards, newborn kits, employment office, and the support provided to people with disabilities, and 144 people accessed these services.
Of the 53 people who were referred to the Sancaktepe and Çekmeköy Directorates of Social Services for the support given to people with disabilities and the elderly, 22 started to receive support. 54 people were informed about and referred to the financial support provided by the institutions affiliated with the District Governorships.
How has the grant support you received from our Deep Poverty Action Fund supported your organisation and your work? Why do you think it is important for activities of combating poverty to be supported by donors?
The Mobile Food Bank project enabled us to conduct systematic and detailed social work in the neighbourhoods where we work. With this project, Needs Map (İhtiyaç Haritası) supported us in establishing a database for the data collected from our beneficiaries. Managing and monitoring this data showing the extent to which the people have access to rights has strengthened our advocacy capacity. It also made it easier for us to quickly access information and visualise data.
In cooperation with TOKTUT, we provided 11,000 lunches to students, while at the same time advocating for children’s access to safe food. With the participation of different CSOs working in the field of children’s rights, we put forward a sustainable work plan focusing on strengthening the opportunities of the families and started contacting relevant partners.
The collaborations with both individual donors and CSOs throughout the project were crucial as they once again revealed that poverty is multidimensional and affects many aspects of daily life. Instead of defining poverty simply as the material deprivation of a disadvantaged group, we aimed to examine its social, psychological and cultural consequences. We collaborated with relevant CSOs to propose quick solutions to the problems identified through fieldwork. In this sense, being supported by various donors contributed to our ability to develop solution-oriented projects to achieve more comprehensive results.
About Deep Poverty Network
Deep Poverty Network, established by the Open Space Association in March 2020, has been working on disadvantaged families’ access to basic needs, such as food, hygiene products and baby supplies by determining these needs through field visits. Open Space Association carries out activities in the fields of socio-cultural empowerment and poverty, conducts field research to advocate for eliminating poverty, and organises workshops and training programs with a rights-based perspective.