Developing Solutions to Poverty with the Real Experts

A project led by Dr Ruth Patrick and Dan Farley to discuss solutions to poverty with those with direct experiences (and thus expertise) of both poverty and the benefits system.

We hear a great deal – in the media and from politicians – about what might make a difference in addressing the problems of poverty and insecurity. Too often, though, the voices of the real experts – those with direct experiences of poverty and the benefits system – are sidelined if not altogether absent from these debates. This project, funded by the Webb Memorial Trust sought to foreground the views of those with direct experiences of poverty and to develop new understanding of the solutions that might make a real difference to individual lives.

What we did

Over a series of workshops, that took place with three groups, Ruth and Dan worked with a group of individuals to explore ideas about the problems and possible solutions to poverty and insecurity. The project focused on the visual, and used visual methodologies as a way in to discussing often difficult lived experiences and also to communicate the findings that came out from the project. The groups involved were Thrive Teessside, the Dole Animators and Atd Fourth World. Each group developed their own visual bluepoint of the solutions they identified, and these were launched with community events and a launch hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty at the House of Commons.

Next steps

One thing that came out from the project was that groups from different parts of the country had a shared understanding of the policy changes that could make a real difference and start to effectively address poverty in the UK. These changes – which included a focus on the benefits system, labour market reforms and improvements in the accessibility and affordability of child care – have also been highlighted in other prominent anti-poverty strategies, such as the work developed by Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). To build on this work, the JRF has provided funding for some more work to explore further the extent of consensus on anti-poverty policy changes required.

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