People who have experienced poverty are getting involved in making decisions that will help others facing the same difficulties.
The newly-established West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission is working with local residents who may have experienced poverty within their lives to share their stories as part of work to identify and tackle the barriers people face.
The stereotypes that surround poverty are changing – over half of people living in poverty today are in work or live with a working adult, a figure up 40 per cent from ten years ago - while in 2004 there were more people in poverty over the age of 65 - the opposite is now true.
Lots of families in poverty are working but are on a low income and may have high child care costs or increasing living costs on essentials including food and fuel.
Locally some small areas have child poverty rates that are above 40 per cent and 25 per cent of reception age children are now classed as obese.
Within the borough, for every 20 people that walk in to a foodbank 12 are single adults and nine of them are men. For men living in different parts of the borough, there is a life expectancy difference of almost ten years and 23 per cent of residents are in work poverty according to the Living Wage Foundation.
West Cheshire Poverty Truth will bring those who have direct experience of poverty together – called community inspirers - with influential business and civic leaders and professionals to build relationships, encourage change within organisations that deliver services, and ensure that their experiences and views are placed at the heart of all work to eradicate poverty.
Chair of West Cheshire Poverty Truth, the Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire David Briggs, said: “When people think of the word poverty they so often consider how much money a person has but the reality for a great many is that it is much deeper than just financial hardship and increasingly we are seeing wider concerns around health and wellbeing, lack of aspiration, debt, housing, food and fuel poverty and employment struggles.
“West Cheshire Poverty Truth recognises that people experiencing poverty are the experts. We want to put them at the heart of the decision-making process to ensure that when our leaders decide how best to deliver services, their impact will be as far-reaching and effective as possible.
“The project has the borough’s residents at its very core and we have already heard from many about their direct experiences. We want to bring together our community to identify barriers and work to make change, helping to improve provision and prevent further poverty for future generations.”
The role of the commission is to support the group of community inspirers who have experienced poverty to develop new relationships with others and gain the skills and confidence to be able to tell their story.
The group of community inspirers will take centre stage at a special launch event at Chester Racecourse on Thursday, February 16 - sharing their stories with an audience of civic, business, third sector leaders and key decision makers.
They will then all work together, inspired by the powerful individual stories to identify what change would look like and agree key priorities for the commission going forward.
If you, or anyone you know, may be interested in getting involved please contact Clare Roberts on 07775 547752 or by emailing email@example.com.