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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

A New Approach to Tackling Poverty in Tameside

Friday, 12 November 2021

On Tuesday I had the pleasure of joining a number of residents, partner organisations and community groups for the launch event of the Tameside Poverty Truth Commission at the 4C Centre in Ashton.
 

The guiding principle of the Poverty Truth Commission is simple but powerful; creating effective and lasting solutions to poverty is only possible when we understand the everyday reality of poverty. In order to achieve this Poverty Truth Commissions, the first of which was launched in Glasgow in 2009, bring together people with lived experience of poverty (known as “grassroots commissioners”) and local community, businesses and political leaders (or “civic commissioners”). By giving a voice to those who would otherwise remain on the margins of society the Poverty Truth Commission allows for the development of new initiatives to tackle poverty at a local level, rooted firmly in the experiences of grassroots commissioners and the expertise of civic commissioners.  

Tuesday’s launch event was the beginning of that work. I think I speak for everybody who was present when I say that the stories we heard from our grassroots commissioners Fran, Ed, Helen, Anthony, Christopher, Karen and Diana, were honest, thought-provoking and difficult to hear in some places.

What came through strongly for me were the challenges they faced around a number of issues such as access to mental health services, difficult and complex routes to getting help, and poor quality housing to name a few. More generally, there was also a sense from our grassroots commissioners that poverty is a trap that is incredibly difficult to escape from. Even if they found themselves in a better place all it took was one event beyond their control, be it a benefits cut, a job loss or a landlord selling a property, and they could be left worse off than when they started. It’s clear to me that breaking this cycle by making sure people get the right help at the right time, before they fall into poverty and crisis, will be a necessary part of any successful plan to tackle poverty in Tameside.

So where do we go from here? Now that the Tameside Poverty Truth Commission is officially been underway the grassroots and civic commissioners will split into work groups, meeting on a monthly basis, to discuss the issues raised at the launch event in further depth. By early 2022, they intend to have identified the three most urgent priorities to address in the fight against poverty in Tameside. The work of the Tameside Poverty Truth Commission will reach its conclusion in early 2023, where their findings and recommendations will be presented for local organisations, charities and businesses to embed into their own practice. 

 

We’re seen in other areas that have launched Poverty Truth Commissions that this is an approach that brings results. To give just one example, an independent evaluation of the Poverty Truth Commission run by the nearby local authority of West Cheshire and Chester found that 100% of both grassroots and civic commissioners reported “More or much more” respect, motivation, friendship and understanding of others as a result of their participation. Furthermore, as a result of changes made as a result of the Commission’s findings, West Cheshire and Chester saw a 75% decrease in evictions in a local housing association, improved access to food in schools, more varied “pick lists” in food banks, and increased socio-economic inclusion awareness across 7 organisations.

I am confident that this is a success we will be able to replicate and build upon, and that Tuesday’s launch event will mark the beginning of a transformation in how we understand and fight poverty in the borough. My sincere thanks go out to everybody who had the courage to turn up and speak their truth. Together, we will begin to fulfil the promise of a brighter and fairer future for all in Tameside.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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