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!