A cutting edge initiative led by the borough council is to be showcased at a national conference.
The West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission has been invited to the Local Government Association’s annual conference in Birmingham to highlight the ‘innovative and successful work’ it has achieved over the past 18 months.
The commission was only the fourth in the country to be set up and is the only one to be led and run by the local authority.
Set up in February last year it heard from those in the borough living at the sharp end of poverty. Other councils are now said to be wanting to hear about its achievements.
The council explains its aim for the commission was to tackle and try to eradicate the root causes of poverty. It differs from the usual approach in that it ensures people with first-hand experience are at the heart of how the borough thinks and acts in tackling poverty and inequality.
This forward thinking approach has enabled residents within the borough, now called community inspirers, to fully engage in the whole process and play an equal part in the decision making process it believes.
Borough council leader Samantha Dixon said: “Our work is relevant to all councils wanting to address inequalities and deepen understanding of the emotive and difficult sides of poverty.
“By involving those with lived experience we can support better decision-making by leaders across the public sector, voluntary sector and business community, we can greatly improve our relationships with residents and improve the lives of everyone we represent.”
She added: “We want to share our work and success with other local authorities so they can help reduce poverty within their borough, having an impact not only locally but also on a national scale.”
Commission chairman David Briggs, Cheshire’s lord lieutenant, said: “The impact on our community inspirers over the past 18 months has been transformational.
“Their confidence has increased immensely and they have all grown and developed as individuals, with several securing permanent, paid work or voluntary work.”
The commission says it has had an impact on all the organisations which have been involved while the community inspirers have worked with organisations to improve procedures, make websites more accessible and easy to navigate and revise letters sent to residents to make them more reader-friendly.
They have also had their voices heard at the House of Commons when they spoke about their experience of welfare reform to MPs and suggested possible solutions. Representatives from the commission will be attending the conference in Birmingham on July 3 to showcase their work at a workshop in the conference innovation zone.
Following on from its launch key priorities were identified covering the effect of poverty on mental health, how do experiences make people feel and help with the benefits system.
For more information about the commission visit https://www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/povertytruth
The second West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission is due to launch in early 2019. Those who have experienced poverty within the borough and who would like to share their story or who are a local leader or influencer who would like to support change can get in contact by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.