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The Impact of Socio-Economic Factors on People's Quality of Living

Social problems are a common issue over the globe. Where there are people and society, there seems to be factors that affect the flow of life and in return, these factors, cause problems that hamper the life of not just a few number of individuals, but the society as a whole. However,  where there are problems, there are solutions to it as well. When people come together as one, they give birth to solutions that not only saves them from the existing problems, but also saves the rest of the coming generations from the same. Today, the society we live in, have as many flaws as there are perfections and even though all races and segments, are a part of the same society, the responsibility of bearing the damage comes on only some of the shoulders and in this process, arises inequality. This paper discusses about how socio-economic factors impact the health and wellness of the people and how some marginalised groups, like the homeless, racial groups, physically disabled and unemployed, are the major victims of social issues. Further, with the application of sociological theories such as social conflict theory and symbolic interactionism theory, the focus shifts on how, by promoting social justice and anti-oppressive practices, these problems can be cured, followed by a conclusion.

The socio-economic factors of a region affects how well and for how long the people will be living (Rankings, 2022). These factors include income, employment, education, social support and community safety and affect the quality of living of the people and the society. These factors are closely related to the choices people make in their every-day living. For example: a person’s choices will be highly affected by the amount of money s/he earns. The basis for the expenses made on the education of his family and the kind of medical sources used will all be affected by these factors. The socio-economic status of the people have many side effects on the health of people. In-fact it has a significant impact on cardiovascular health of people as well (Schultz, et al., 2018). The problem also arises when there occurs an imbalance in the management of these factors. According to the reports by the government of the United Kingdom, by the financial year end of 2020 the household income inequality in the U.K. increased by 36.3% which was the highest recorded growth within 10 years (O'Neill, 2021). This lead to the increase in the gap between the richest and the poor people in the country. Such imbalances caused, that affect the socio-economic factors, then creates social issues such as poverty, inequality which also leads to unemployment, homelessness and even hate-crime and bullying. These issues combined, can have adverse effects on the life-cycle and style of the people living in the area where these occur.

People living in extreme shortages of resources experience worst situations which then begins to interrupt everything a person has related to their life. One of the most common issues that rises because of poverty is that it causes ill health and also serves as a constraint in affording good health care. The political, social and economic injustices are the cause of poverty for millions of people around the globe (Roberts, 2018). This flaw in the system, that creates inequality, gives birth to not just one but a line of social issues. With the misbalanced distribution of income, the number of people being able to afford good health care facilities decreases. To add to it, the several difficult conditions in which these people live, increases their risk of falling ill. There can be two reasons for this. One: the problem of not being able to afford good food that ultimately leads to the immune system getting weak and two: the areas in which these people live does not follow proper sanitary protocols which in return makes these people come in contact with harmful bacterias and viruses. Now health comes in different forms and one of the most important forms include, mental health. There are several reasons that can affect mental health and many a times these reasons include social issues. As poverty can make an individual’s situations worse, so can unemployment. A person with no job and income is more likely to have stress, which can then lead to overthinking and an increase in negative thoughts. This process can lead to bad mental health of the individual. In a study conducted in 2021, it was revealed that 43% of people who were unemployed had poor mental health (Wilson & Finch, 2021). Another issue that gives rise to health problems is, homelessness. This is one of the biggest issues in Britain. People with no home and that live on the streets are more prone to falling ill and catching deadly diseases. These people have no shelter, proper food to eat or even proper clothes to wear. In 2018, around 762 people died without a shelter on the streets in England and Wales (Hattenstone & Lavelle, 2019). Although, many people consider all these issues and comes forward to help the ones in need. These group of people are regarded as social care workers. In the United Kingdom, any person who is above 18 years of age and meet the eligibility criteria is allowed to perform social care services (Mind, 2018).

The Effects of Socio-Economic Factors on Health and Wellness

Looking into an experience narrated by Victoria Harding, through an article published in the NHS in 2021, this issue can be demonstrated well upon. In the article published on 10th November 2021, a social prescriber narrates about how a PHM approach helped her aid a woman named Jane, who spent a majority of her time in her front room (Harding, 2021). She begins by narrating about her role as a social prescriber and how herself and her team help the people in need, achieve better health by providing them god healthcare facilities. Victoria further adds that, with her recent involvement with the PHM Development program, she was able to explore another side of helping the people in need by reaching out to them personally as these people often fails to reach them and instead reach out to 999 emergency services when the situation gets out of control (Harding, 2021). By applying the approach demonstrated by the population health management, Harding and her team were able to identify 116 patients who were living with heart failures and, as she states, they found Jane within the same patients. The narration then shifts to Jane’s condition in which Harding describes in the conditions Jane was living and how bad her overall health was. Jane had multiple health related issues and the environment around hr made it worse. However, with the timely recognition of these issues by Harding and her team changed Jane’s life magically. Which gives the reader a clear picture of how the social health related problems can be solved by the required amount of efforts by the people of the same country.

With the increment in inequality and imbalances in a society or a country, increases the number of people that are socially and economically excluded from a mainstream line of individuals (O'Donnell, et al., 2016). These people are grouped into different segments and are often referred to as, marginalised groups. Marginalization is the root cause of power imbalance (Causadias, et al., 2018). These groups often include the homeless, ethnic groups, people discriminated based on their race, physically and mentally disabled people, etc. The people that are considered a part of these groups, bear discrimination based on numerous aspects related to their identity, practices, dissimilarities to name a few. People are also discriminated based on their gender for example girls and the members of the LGBTQI. One of the main problems that occur under the poverty struck segment of these groups is that some children, are marginalised since their birth. Their whole life, these children are made to believe that they belong to a particular group of people that are not as fortunate as the others and that they should live in certain limitations. According to some analysis, more than 50% black children in the United Kingdom live in extreme poverty (Sparrow, 2022). These children are a victim to not just one but two of the segments of the marginalized groups. One being the people struck by poverty and another being the people discriminated based on race. This group faces much worse situations and are discriminated and are picked upon by people into any case possible. They are discriminated under any situations like employment, education, healthcare, housing, services and even by the government authorities or police (Advice, 2022). Another group, that falls under the marginalized category, comprises of the people who have some kind of disability. According to the Equality Act 2010, these people reserve the right to be treated equally and discrimination against them must not be practised in any situations be it education, employment, services etc. (Verma, 2018). In-spite of acts like these in the U.K., disabled people still continue to face discrimination on a vast level. Their dignity and respect is compromised every single day and they are denied equality at all levels possible. Similarly, the ones to fight for their dignity every day, are the homeless people. Homelessness creates many problems along with it and the rate that describes the number of people homeless today is alarming. The causes of homelessness are many including unemployment, unaffordability of housing and much more. The people that fall into this segment of marginalized groups, deals with many things in their life. Their life expectancy decreases because of lack of basic essentials and exposure to harsh conditions. Of people who are homeless, the average age at which they die is 45 and 43 in men and women respectively (Crises, 2022).

Social Issues Caused by the Mismanagement of Socio-Economic Factors

The existence of the marginal groups and the social issues faced by people all around the world are the cause of some or the other underlying factors that has been within the societies since a long time. All human beings are diverse in nature and are a reflection of different values. With the difference in values and interests of people arise conflicts and with conflicts and the role played by power comes inequality. The social conflict theory suggests just the same. This theory suggests that social inequality is bound to be present where there are differences in people’s interests and values (Dictionary, 2022). The theory highlights the role of groups, conflicts and power distribution among the people in society. The social conflict theory suggests that the people with more power and money enforce laws and act according to their interests which protects their own economic standing and oppresses the ones who are poor. This theory also discusses the fact that the racial groups do not merge with the society and if they are included in the society they will not continue to create conflict (Lopez, 2020). The whole theory typically revolves around social power. The prioritized group of the society aims at maintaining their stand in the society whereas, the minor group struggles to build a standing and demands equality in the society which creates social conflicts. For example, the people that falls under the category of mainstream individuals tries to oppress the minority whereas the socially challenged groups fights back I the process to gain a position of equal standing be it a group segregated by race, gender, income, education etc,.

Another theory in sociology is symbolic interactionism theory that sheds light on the fact that the societies are a sum total of the perceived interactions that run through the generations. It focuses on individual actions and reactions rather than bigger social structures (LibreText, 2021). This theory demonstrates that the humans understand the world through communication and symbols which also contributes to their understanding of the society they live in. It is based on understanding the approach of humans towards the society theoretically. The main contribution of this theory is that it helps in the understanding of human behaviour in a society and how people react to different social issues in the society. This contribution leads to a better understanding of the concepts and aids in tackling the current and past issues related to the society.

There is no denying in the fact that when the people of a community decide to improve, there is nothing that can hold the society back from becoming an idle one. However, it is the government that holds the power to either destroy of build a great society. With government passing laws that genuinely work in the betterment of the people, astounding results can be achieved. This is where the two empowered democratic practices can come into action and play their part. The advocacy and empowerment work hand-in-hand. Advocacy holds the power of promoting social justice, equality and social inclusion (Excellence, 2020). Through advocacy practices, social issues related to age, race, religion, gender, disability etc. can be improved and even eliminated as these promote equality. Although, considering the situation at present, the elimination of such issues seems a far reality. With the levels of the bar that reflects the gap between the higher and the lower groups of the community, will arise empowerment.

The Role of Social Care Workers in Addressing Social Problems

Sometimes it is not the people themselves that feel of themselves as lesser than the ones they are surrounded with, it is the people around them that target their disabilities and give them a hard time. One such example that reflects the experience of a ward manager, at East Lancashire Hospitals National Health Services Trust, can explain this easily. A blog from NHS in 2018 shared a story of a nurse where she speaks up against marginalization and exclusion (Mohammed, 2018). The nurse stated that marginalization and exclusion are issues that can be experienced because of age, race, gender or disabilities. She narrated her story beginning with how she contracted measles when she was only six years of age which disabled her hearing and made her wear hearing aids. She added that she never had any problem or was never categorized by her disability as a child or even a student. It was only when she started working as a nurse, when she started getting marginalised because of her disability. She further added to the experiences, she had as a nurse, that how she felt about being excluded from the group of people who had no disabilities. She narrated two incidences where she had to wait for three months for a phone to be mended to resume work and another when she was excluded from a group of nurses who thought she was not a perfect fit in the same. She further claimed to have feelings of insecurities while not being able to express herself completely. She further appealed every reader to put an end to marginalization and social exclusion by treating everyone equally despite their disabilities.

The careful reading of this narrative reflection of Mohammed highlights many factors like how the people in the marginalized groups feel and what are the impacts of marginalization practices on an individual’s life. It subtly gives an idea about the things that can be done to avoid such problems in the society as a whole. Two of the main practices that can be undertaken to solve issues like these from their roots are social justice and anti-oppressive practises. Anti-oppressive practice is a dominant approach of practice in social work (Egan & Papadopoulos, 2016). Social justice is served when all groups of people are treated fairly with dignity, treated with respect and are listened to properly and have an equal say in matters (Turnbull, 2020). All these values combined are the right of every citizen like Mohammed. When people will be treated equally and with consideration, the degree to which all these social problems, will demolish significantly. Social justice not only comes by the people understanding it and following it according to their will, there are certain laws that in the form of human rights that serve as a great way to promote social justice. On the other hand these issues can be worked upon by performing anti-oppressive practices. Oppressive practices are performed at various levels, be it individual or institutional. To overcome and fight these practices of oppression, anti-oppression practices has to be performed (Library, 2021). These practices are an important part of the social work which theoretically resolves the issues that a particular segment goes through. Some of the key principles of these practices are empowerment of service users, reflection on self during practice, partnership, assessment of experiences of users and minimal intervention.

With the demonstration of social issues and their affect on health, it can be concluded that the groups most affected by these are categorised as marginal by the society. Although these groups deal with a lot of hardships in the cycle of life, their hardships can be eliminated with a combined effort by the government and the people in of the society. Effective applications of some social practices like promotion of social justice and anti-oppressive practices can lead to a betterment in the process of eliminating these issues. It is observed that the health of individuals of the marginalized groups are highly affected by the issues they face. However, the health-care facilities provided to these people must be improved in order to promote better conditions for these people. Social workers are the heroes of the marginalized people and their effective assistance are life-saving to them as demonstrated through the narrative of Victoria Harding who not only helped the woman named Jane come out of her isolated front room but also saved her life by curing her illnesses that had been with her for several years, untreated. Whereas, another narrative demonstrated about the experience of an individual from the marginalized category. This reflected on the unexplored points and revelations and through the understanding of these it can be stated that the people that are treated unequally in the society only longs for quality and justice. The theory of social conflict states that conflicts arise because of the role power play and the struggle of the minors for equality. This equality if served can resolve problems of greater values and bring peace and balance in the societies all over the world. However, as the people are the doers and the enjoyers of any of the outcomes and processes of the society, this equality can only be achieved through the awareness in the same people, individually or collectively and if achieved, can be wonderous to the whole world.

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