The Poverty Emergency

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?

Following on from the success of the very first Poverty Truth Commission in Glasgow, Scotland, the first West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission was set up in 2017, with the aim of tackling the root causes of poverty. It was the first to be led and administered by a Local Authority, Cheshire West and Chester Council, helping to address gaps in services and inequalities across the borough.

The West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission aimed to give a face to the facts by creating safe spaces for community inspirers, those with lived experience of poverty, to tell their stories. It also provided opportunities for those making and influencing decisions to listen and ensured that people with lived experience are at the heart of how the borough thinks and acts in tackling poverty and inequality.

The success of the first West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission led to the launch of a second in 2019 that ran until March 2020.

How we live

It is essential to include the voice of children and young people in change, and enable them to feel valued and safe as they have their voices heard.

A group of young people from Winsford Academy and Wharton Primary School, were involved in a number of drama workshops. They developed a fictional character and story which they played out at the The Poverty Truth Commission launch event at Storyhouse in Chester.

The script was then developed with support from television producer and screenwriter Phil Redmond CBE and other industry professionals to make a short film - 'How we live'. It is a powerful film which raises awareness and understanding of the issues young people face, caused by poverty and is largely shot through the eyes of a young person to remind us all, to have a person-centred approach and to look at the barriers surrounding that ideal non-judgemental practice.

Watch the trailer

Online workshops

Online workshops have been created around the film to help influence the change that we want to see within the lives of young people. These workshops are aimed at people working with families and young people and cover:

  • Self-awareness – how do our attitudes and behaviours impact others?
  • The impact of the language we use.
  • Increasing insight into the factors that can contribute to child poverty.
  • Understanding the journey and struggles young people face by walking a mile in their shoes.
  • How do we react to the challenges we face and is their room in your working day to adapt and be flexible?
  • How we can support families and young people to break down barriers and achieve their goals.

As part of the workshop learners get to watch the film and the sessions run between one and a half to two hours in duration. Sessions are delivered via Microsoft Teams or Zoom and can be tailored to suit learning objectives.

To find out more complete our online enquiry form.

The next stage

Building on the learning from The Poverty Truth Commissions, it was agreed in early 2020 to mainstream this approach to inform and support all poverty work across the Council and with local partner agencies, developing a programme of work in conjunction with services that retains the poverty truth ethos.

To support this work, the Council has now set up a Poverty Truth Advisory Board (PTAB) with public, private, civic sector and community inspirer representatives to advise and support services across the Council and partner agencies.

Get involved

If you have ideas for improvement, experience, insight or skills to offer or would like to become a Community Inspirer please get in touch.