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. 

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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
www.theyounguns.co.uk

From UK poverty to social security - solutions grounded in experience

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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