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Sunday, August 15, 1999 Published at 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK

Special Report

'Poverty pilgrimage' begins

The pilgrims hope to highlight poverty

Anti-poverty campaigners are beginning a "pilgrimage" from north Wales to Cardiff to highlight the gap between rich and poor.

The "People's Pilgrimage Against Poverty" is also setting off simultaneously from Iona, off the west coast of Scotland to London.

Organisers "Church Action on Poverty" said they expect thousands of people to join the pilgrims as they make their way south in a bid to put poverty back on the political agenda.

[ image: Chancellor Gordon Brown will meet the pilgrims]
Chancellor Gordon Brown will meet the pilgrims
The walk from Holywell to Cardiff is expected to take two weeks. Holywell, site of a well with reputed healing powers, is one of Wales's holiest pilgrimage sites.

The campaigners want the government to commit itself to the eradication of poverty by the year 2020.

Chancellor Gordon Brown has agreed to meet their representatives at 11 Downing Street on October 18 to discuss their concerns.

Niall Cooper, national co-ordinator of "Church Action on Poverty", said: "Poverty is not an act of God.

"The existence of poverty in this country diminishes the lives of everybody, not just the poor.

Minimum income

"The pilgrimage is a chance for all sections of the community to tell the Government what sort of society they wish to live in.

"We know that poor people are dying unnecessarily because of their poverty.

"We are hoping to use the pilgrimage to highlight the need for the Government to establish a minimum income standard which keeps all our citizens in health, and which maintains dignity and social inclusion."

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