Poverty2Solutions – direct experience taking the lead to developing the Socio-Economic Duty

What a journey we have been (and still are on). Three grassroots’ organisations: ATD Fourth World, Dole Animators and Thrive Teesside have been working with Ruth Patrick and Dan Farley (with funding and support from Webb Memorial Trust and JRF) for nearly 3 years now developing their Poverty2Solutions. Not wanting to be locked out of mainstream debates when arriving at solutions to addressing the causes and prevalence of poverty, the 3 groups have embarked on unprecedented collaborative working practices, bringing their unique areas of expertise together and taking forward solutions that can and will make a real difference in our communities of disadvantage

“We are sick of people in positions of power who do not listen. Our voice means something and we have knowledge, skills and abilities that should inform the debates that lead to policies that have a major impact on our lives”

Kathleen Carter, Thrive


Each of the three groups are rooted in their communities, working with people with direct experience of poverty to effect change. No longer wanting to be ‘part of the problem’ or ‘demonised by their position in society’, people are challenging the status quo and bringing their areas of expertise and knowledge around the table with other stakeholders to make a difference in their communities.


“We have lived through government policies that have had a negative impact on our life (UC / Welfare Reforms..) we are fed up with this and want to make sure that the voices of people who live in poverty help shape and design policies. We are asking for better designed policies that enable us to realise our potential. We are not going away, but we are a growing movement”

Dann Kenningham ATD Fourth World


The Poverty2Solutions journey began back nearly 3 years ago with each group working in their own localities designing visual illustrations to depict what they saw as solutions to the difficulties faced by people living in poverty

In July 2017, the three groups came together to launch their final designs at an event in the Houses of Parliament, hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty. 

Work did not cease with the presentation at the Houses of Parliament, the three groups have been tenacious with progressing their solutions work. Resolute with their determination to see change, they have continued to develop their work and ensure it is specific with regards having a major impact on the lives of people who are suffering under austerity and welfare reforms. Voice has been an important aspect of this work and in particular,


It is important for us to put the voices of people who live in poverty into policy making. We are asking for better designed policies, that enable us to realise our potential”

Tracey Herrington, Thrive


“This has been an amazing journey. I can’t believe how much we have achieved so far. It has been great working with likeminded people who want to make a difference. It can be hard to motivate yourself, that why this team is so fantastic – we keep each other going”

Colin Jeffrey, Thrive


The start of the journey was getting to the root causes of poverty; sharing lived experiences and talking about the impact of poverty and the way we felt, coming together with other groups made us feel empowered to be able to come up with the solutions; some were small, easy results, but we were ready to take on a big ask, so we did. We are proud of our achievements and ready for the journey ahead – The feasibility of implementing Section One of the Equality Act.

Corrina Eastwood, Thrive


“With apprehension, happiness and laughter, we have joined together and walked the journey hand in hand. People from different parts of the country, all with direct experience of poverty, have been affected in very similar ways. We sit, we talk and we delve deep. We have a brain and we are now determined to organise ourselves and fight back”

Kathleen Carter, Thrive

Voice and the “Socio Economic Duty”

Developing the aspect of Voice and ensuring people with direct experience were not only heard, but actively listened to by decision and policy makers led to the progression of re-visiting the feasibility of implementing Section 1 of the Equality Act (Socio Economic Duty). But what does that actually mean? Back in 2009, the then Deputy leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman, MP talked about proposals in a Social Mobility paper that would ensure public bodies would have a legal duty to reduce inequality between socio-economic groups

Since 2009, Harriet Harman, MP has continued to progress this vision. On 11 January 2017, Harriet asked the then Minister for Women and Equalities (Justine Greening, MP) if she would commence the Socio-Economic Duty on public bodies contained within Section 1. Furthermore, on the 23 November 2017, Harriet tabled an Early Day Motion 591 calling for Section 1 to be commenced in England and Wales with cross party support beginning to grow. Harriet has been quoted as welcoming the Scottish Government’s decision to implement their Fairer Duty and commented that it is a powerful tool in terms of spending cuts. Having a well-resourced watchdog to monitor its implementation is key.

Poverty2Solutions felt that there was a clear alignment with the work we were progressing so naturally felt our next step was to meet with Harriet Harman, MP and have a conversation. Our brief and aim for the meeting was very specific: (1) update Harriet on our journey to date, (2) gather some key information to assess the feasibility of progressing this piece of work and (3) seek support / agree next steps

Positive meeting with Harriet Harman MP

The meeting with Harriet was well received and a focussed debate allowed for time for people with direct experience of poverty to showcase their work and reiterate their determination to ensure people with direct experience were firmly placed and at the forefront of taking this specific piece of work through to the next steps.

The outcome of the meeting on the 5 March 2019 led to the following key points and outcomes:

  • Harriet Harman, MP had a good appreciation that, done well, the value of the duty would be not just about adding data and statistical analysis on socio-economic inequalities into policy-making, but also about incorporating the voices and experiences of those with lived experience (LE).

  • She raised her concern that whilst there is now a general recognition that the voices of e.g. women and BME people should be taken into account in policy-making, there remains an unhelpful belief that people in poverty do not want to speak about their experiences and views. The Socio-Economic Duty could start to challenge this misconception.

  • Harriet is particularly interested to learn more about how the Fairer Duty in Scotland is being implemented and how they are addressing the issue of including the voices of people with LE.

  • A commitment was made to look at rebooting a current Early Day Motion on the duty as a means of starting to raise the profile of the issue again in Parliament. The motion could be re-worded to reflect that i) there is now an equivalent duty in Scotland, ii) recent years have increased the necessity for the duty (e.g. rising poverty/ food bank use), and iii) the need for the duty to embed LE into policy-making.

  • She will also try and see if MP’s from other parties who may be supportive of the motion to help add legitimacy (i.e. so it has cross-party support).

  • On the question of appetite within Labour to include a commitment to implement the duty in the next Labour manifesto, Harriet was very positive and felt this could be achievable.

  • Harriet also agreed to act as an ambassador for the campaign and seemed energised to refocus her attention on the issue more generally.

  • Finally, a suggestion was made that one next step might be to seek a sample of Local Authorities to act as pilot schemes.

Speaking to Harriet’s office following the meeting, feedback was: “We are currently working on the redraft of the Early Day Motion. Harriet has spoken to Alex Cunningham MP(Stockton North) and he’s agreed to be a joint sponsor.”  

Participants from Poverty2Solutions had lots to say upon reflection of the meeting with Harriet:


“We were made to feel very welcome by Harriet Harman, especially as we were invited actually to her office. The meeting didn’t feel rushed. She took her time with us listening to us and really hearing what we had to say. Being invited after by her go to the public gallery in the House of Commons was the icing on the cake and good end to a good trip”

Patricia ATD Fourth World


“It was nice to meet with her in person, because I had seen her on TV before, but I never thought I would meet her. She welcomed us very well. I felt comfortable, confident talking to her. Before the meeting I was a bit sceptical. But it was really good to be in company of an actual MP. It was a new experience for me.

Having written my piece on paper made it easier for me. Whatever we told her, I hope she will be true to her word and do what she said she would do. Unfortunately we had very little time with her as she had do dash out. It was nice to look at debates from the gallery afterwards. Later I was flicking through TV channels and stopped on Channel 8 (London Live) where the lady we had seen in the House of Commons was talking. I said to my daughter: “Look, mummy was there!”

It was nice to be all together in the Wash Café. It is always good to read again in advance when you prepare something. I was less nervous. Before I would never have been able to do something like that. But I learned over the years. Seamus helped me in projects like the social worker training, the Roles We Play and Giving Poverty A Voice.”

Angela, ATD Forth World


“I think the meeting was really good. She is a very good listener.

The meeting was very short. She is a very busy woman so it is understandable.  We had a very limited time with her and we couldn’t talk about our second point. We could leave our questions with her, though and I assume she will go back to them.

One of the ladies from Teesside spoke more to her than we did. But it was good because she could put her point across. She said she was willing to back us. We have the labour government on our side. That’s fantastic. We’ve got a point and we needed to get it over. At least we got somewhere.

The preparation time was very good. It was good to prepare in advance. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what it would be to meet with Harriet Harman. But it went very well.

This meeting was very different from the meeting 20 years ago (with Harriet Harman). We had the same amount of time back then, because she is very busy. She was Secretary of State for Social Security at the time. She’s not a top one, but still it is someone from the government. The meeting in 1998 was very good too.

I took the opportunity to give her a copy of The Roles We Play: A Method Participation report.”

Seamus, ATD Fourth World

“Harriet listened and made us feel very welcome. She was not afraid to answer our questions, in fact, she got right into it. Our journey is finally getting there”

Colin, Thrive


Forming partnership alliances and developing relationships

It takes a range of people with various skills and knowledge to enable something like this to happen. The feedback above from participants demonstrates how valuable meetings and initiatives involving people with direct experience of any given issue are.

Forming partnership alliances and developing relationships both with funders and others who have skills and expertise to offer are key to ‘making things happen’. Poverty2Solutions acknowledge all the support and assistance they have received to date to enable actions to be progressed. 

We recognise that without funding support, meetings, travel and all other costs associated with ensuring the voices of people could be heard in parliament would have proved if not impossible, very difficult. So a big thankyou to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Webb Memorial Trust

Thanks to JRF for also for putting us in touch with Daisy Sands. Her knowledge and experience around policy and campaign work has assisted the Poverty2Solutions group immeasurably

Dr Ruth Patrick has guided, steered and kept us on track, despite our sometimes best efforts to wander off topic

Graphic Designer Dan Farley has enabled our work to visually come to life and Charlotte Thorpe has shared her expertise around social media to ensure we reach out enabling us to foster and engage with a wider community

Participants themselves have been exceptional with ensuring the project has remained true to its values. It takes a lot of hard work, determination and commitment to keep getting up and challenging the status quo, ensuring the voices of people with direct experience can and will continue to be recognised as key to ensuring change for the better happens. Without people from the community fully engaging, we would not have made this progression to date. A big, big thank you


The Poverty2Solutions journey does not stop here. Next stop, Glasgow on a fact finding mission to find out more about the implementation of the Fairer Duty

Work will develop with Just Fair and the Poverty2Solutions will seek additional funding to enable the recommendations which came from the meeting with Harriet Harman, MP to progress  

Follow us on twitter @Poverty2Sols to keep abreast of our next steps

Putting the voices of people in poverty on the political map

Last week, as part of activities across the country, the Poverty 2 Solutions project members, ATD Fourth World, Dole Animators & Thrive Teesside, took part in coordinated activity to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17th October. 


This included a zine making workshop in Leeds led by the Dole Animators, a day of local action on the streets of Stockton on Tees led by Thrive Teesside, and a parliamentary event hosted by Baroness Ruth Lister and coordinated by ATD Fourth World. But this was only the start. The week also saw widespread media coverage including a letter in The Times, a column from the fantastic Ros Wynne-Jones in the Daily Mirror ,a twitter takeover and blogs by group members. 

We used the hash tag #povertytakeover and it felt like just that - an occasion where the voices of those with direct experiences of poverty were heard in lots of places, and in different forums.

The #povertytakeover activity is linked to the work of the new APLE Collective (Addressing Poverty through Lived Experiences), which has seen several groups with direct experiences of poverty come together to develop joint actions, support one another and lobby for effective and meaningful change. 

In the most recent activity, there has been a focus on Universal Credit: calling on policymakers to begin a genuine and meaningful engagement with people in receipt of the benefit (or who may receive it in the future) as part of wider action to improve the benefit and people’s experiences of it. 

We are particularly proud to be part of the collective as it has grown out of the Poverty 2 Solutions work, and – in particular – a workshop that we hosted back in February 2018 to try and build links and relationships with broader anti-poverty groups with a focus on sharing the expertise of experience.


At this February session, the groups came together for the first time and talked about all they shared, and where there was scope to do joint work. It was at this meeting that the appetite and drive to develop a collective became incredibly and excitingly apparent. At this meeting we floated the initial idea to coordinate activities around the country on 17th October. 

And so…. only eight months later here we are. With the collective up and running (find it on twitter @aplecollective) and with a successful day of action behind us.

We are only here thanks to the work and support of a great number of people, groups and organisations, and we’re so grateful to everyone for their input and support. Firstly to all our fellow APLE Collective members, who we have worked with us over the past months.

Secondly, thanks to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation for supporting first the Poverty 2 Solutions work, and now the activities of the collective. And thanks to all of those who have been enthusiastic about this way of working, and who share our belief that the time has come to put the voices of people living in poverty firmly on the policymaking and political map. 

We are meeting with the other collective members next month, and are excited to discuss what comes next and where this new way of working will take us. We all feel ready and prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Watch this space for news of what comes next!

Follow us on Twitter: @poverty2sols and @APLEcollective


The importance of using lived experience in solutions to poverty

17 October was the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year, at an ATD Fourth World event at UK Parliament, Rebecca Bromley gave a speech on the importance of using lived experience when finding solutions to poverty. This blog was originally published on the Joseph Rowntree Foundation blog.

I have booked the day off work to come here today as I feel extremely passionate about trying to find a solution to poverty. It matters to me because I have lived in poverty. I've struggled to keep a home, to keep it warm and struggled to put food on the table. I've been there and lived that sad, stressful and worrying life. Things changed for me when I took part in a fashion project provided by my housing provider, Leeds Federated.

At a point in my life where I had lost all self confidence I had to push myself to get involved. During the project I worked closely with Leeds Federated's community development manager who identified that all I needed was an opportunity, a chance to get my life back on track, a chance to be somebody again, a chance to enjoy life.

I was asked if I would like to do some work experience at Leeds Federated. After working voluntarly for six months I was then offered employment at Leeds Federated. Since then my confidence and knowledge has grown and grown to land me where I am now - a housing manager for Anchor housing.

It was during the time at Leeds Federated that I became involved with the Dole Animators. I was keen to get involved and to share my story and experiences. In the eight years I have been part of dole animators we have done a lot of work to try to raise awareness of the struggles of living on benefits.

At our last meeting we used our imagination and creative skills to create a zine, a DIY magazine. It can be seen on our website. Our latest project, Poverty to Solutions, has brought together three groups - Dole Animators, Thrive Teesside and ATD Fourth World to share ideas around finding solutions to poverty.

It is important that solutions to poverty are based on facts and individuals' experiences. Only then will we find solutions that will actually work and will make a difference to people living in poverty. 

How can you be sure that putting plans in place are going to work if you are not aware of the problems? The people living, or who have lived, in poverty are the people who can provide the most input to finding a solution as they are the ones that live a life of poverty, day in, day out. Find out what the real struggles are and where the real help can be placed. Help these people to live a life that, right now, they only dream of. A life that seems so far away they never imagine themselves there.

If voices of the people living in poverty were heard and action was taken based on these rea-life scenarios and conditions then maybe it would give them hope, ambition, encouragement, opportunities and happiness that everyone deserves.

Rebecca Bromley is a member of the Dole Animators, Poverty2Security and is a housing scheme manager.

Rebecca Bromley spoke at the ATD 4th World event in Westminster on 17th October 2018.

Rebecca Bromley spoke at the ATD 4th World event in Westminster on 17th October 2018.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty - 17th October 2018

The three groups behind Poverty 2 Solutions (Atd Fourth World UK, the Dole Animators and Thrive Teesside) have been working with other groups with direct experiences of poverty.

Together, these groups have formed the APLE Collective (Addressing Poverty through Lived Experiences) whose aim is to work together to to try and affect social change. APLE wants people with experience of poverty to play a part in making the changes that are needed to build a better future for us all.

Today, each of the members of the collective took part in activities in their local area to mark and celebrate the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.


ATD Fourth World, London

In London, ATD Fourth World UK organised an event at the House of Lords which featured a film screening of ATD’s film which recognises the contribution of people in poverty, as well as a panel discussion about how we include people with experiences of poverty in positive social change.


Thrive Teesside, Stockton upon Tees

Up in Stockton on Tees, Thrive Teesside organised a whole day of activities on their local high street featuring a speaker’s corner, information stalls, selfie stations and much more.

Dole Animators, Leeds

Finally, in Leeds, the Dole Animators hosted a zine making workshop where they came together with other individuals from Leeds and Bradford to make a collective zine about what a poverty free future might look like.

Watch our animation

Over the past few months, the three groups who took part in the original poverty2security project have been working together again. That’s Thrive Teesside from Stockon-on-Tees, the Dole Animators from Leeds, and ATD Fourth World, based in London.

It’s been a great chance to come together, get visual, and think about combining ideas for what would really make a difference if we are to effectively tackle poverty in the UK. During a series of workshops, the groups have worked through ideas, and have listened to others about their own ideas for solving poverty.

The groups have also developed an animation, which tells the story of their work in recent months, and reaches out to others who might like to get involved in trying to end poverty. You can watch the gif here, combined with some ace music from The Young ‘Uns, who have kindly let us use their fantastic song: ‘you won’t find me on benefits street’.

Do get involved and spread the word using #goodsociety & #makingvoicescount

Together, by joining forces, we believe we can make a real difference.
Thrive Teesside, ATD Fourth World, & Dole Animators, May 2018

Music credit: You Won’t Find Me on Benefits Street (Sean Cooney / David Eagle)
The Young’uns

From UK poverty to social security - solutions grounded in experience


Join the Webb Memorial Trust and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty for a timely discussion on how best to address the problems of poverty and insecurity in the UK. This event sees the launch of three proposals for solutions to poverty coming from individuals with direct experience of poverty and Britain’s social security system.

Dr Ruth Patrick (University of Liverpool) worked with three organisations (Thrive Teesside, Leeds-based Dole Animators  and ATD Fourth World in London) and a graphic designer – Dan Farley – to develop visual representations of the policy changes that they believe could make a lasting difference to the lives of those in poverty. This event brings together the three groups with first-hand experience of poverty for a conversation alongside people with other forms of expertise.

  • hould policymakers rethink their approach to addressing poverty in the UK?
  • Is there a mismatch between the portrayal of welfare and everyday experiences?
  • How can we deliver security for more of Britain’s households?
  • What can be done to build support for an effective anti-poverty strategy?

This discussion represents an opportunity for politicians, policy makers and other stakeholders to engage with the expertise that comes with experience, and to explore the extent of consensus regarding what might be most effective in delivering positive changes to social security in the UK.

Frances Ryan (The Guardian) will chair the event. Representatives from Thrive, Dole Animators and ATD Fourth World will open the discussion, followed by responses from:

  • Dr Ruth Patrick, University of Liverpool, author of For Whose Benefit?
  • Dr Michael Orton, University of Warwick, author of Secure & Free
  • Jane Mansour, Independent Policy Consultant, in-work poverty researcher for CPAG’s ‘Britain Works’ project
  • Deven Ghelani, Policy in Practice (invited)

Participants will then be invited to take part in a roundtable discussion, and to contribute their own ideas for how these problems might be most effectively tackled.

If you cannot make the event, do join in the discussion using #goodsociety

Thursday 6th July 2016, 14.15-16.00, Macmillan Room, Portcullis House, Houses of Parliament. Tea & coffee from 14.00

Please arrive at Portcullis House by 13.45 in order to clear security. You may be asked for ID. Information about visiting Parliament can be found here

Photo credit: yepyep vis flickr