West Cheshire Poverty Truth
It all started with a question
Could people living in poverty help shape the way our borough's leaders make decisions about the support services in place? Would it make a difference to the decisions that are being made? Would it also strengthen relationships, change attitudes and create solutions to some of the difficult questions poverty creates?
The answer to that is yes. Following on from the success of the very first Poverty Truth Commission (PTC) in Glasgow, Scotland, we set up our own commission. More than 200 community, voluntary, faith and public sector organisations came together to support the launch of the first commission in West Cheshire back in 2017.
With the aim of tackling the root causes of poverty, the commission is different to what you might normally expect. That is because it makes sure people with lived experience are at the heart of how the borough thinks and acts in tackling poverty and inequality.
So what is the West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission (WCPTC)?
It aims to give a face to the facts. This is done by creating safe spaces for community inspirers, those with lived experience of poverty, to tell their stories. It also provides opportunities for those making and influencing decisions to listen. The project deepens understanding of the emotive and difficult sides of poverty, improve perceptions, challenge stereotyping, and lead to better decision-making by the borough’s leaders across business, public and voluntary sectors.
What have we done for individuals?
- Community inspirers feel empowered. They now have a voice.
- Inspirers have a sense of belonging and purpose, reducing isolation and building confidence.
- Two community inspirers from the first commission have found permanent work, others are actively seeking work and some have taken up voluntary opportunities, such as public speaking.
How have we changed cultures, behaviours and attitudes?
- Housing benefit letters are now more customer-friendly.
- We have been working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to develop a GP engagement strategy.
- The PTC pledge has been introduced, promoting respectful treatment of all people. If you would like to sign up to the pledge, you can get in touch with the team.
How have we influenced national policy?
- Community inspirers presented the key issues and proposed solutions to MPs at the House of Commons.
- We have submitted written evidence to the Work and Pension Select Committee.
How have we made a difference locally?
- We have worked with the Building Futures project to help secure funding for mental health awareness training for up to 300 frontline staff at Cheshire West and Chester Council and partner organisations.
- We have contributed to a new and refreshed Local Offer website.
How have we been noticed?
- We have had plenty of media coverage, such as appearances on the Sunday Politics Show, BBC News, Dee 106 and BBC Radio Merseyside.
- We have now been put forward as a case study for the Local Government Network’s Good practice in engaging with the public.
Building on the positive work
The second WCPTC launched at Storyhouse on 31 January 2019, bringing together a new group of community inspirers with civic and business leaders.
More than 150 people from many different sectors attended the launch as community inspirers took centre stage to share their stories and experiences.
The second WCPTC will now be aiming to build on the positive work of the first commission. It is working with the Youth Senate and a group of young people from Winsford Academy and Wharton Primary School, helping to strengthen the voice of young people and allowing them to influence change.
Help us tackle poverty for future generations by getting involved with West Cheshire Poverty Truth.