South Lakeland Poverty Truth Commission
Amplifying the voices of people in poverty
What is a Poverty Truth Commission?
Poverty Truth Commissions seek to answer the question ‘what if people who struggled against poverty were involved in making decisions about tackling it?’
The members (or commissioners) for each Commission come from two groups of people. Around half are people with a lived experience of the struggle against poverty. The other half are decision-makers and influencers within the city or region. Collectively they work to understand the underlying issues and causes of poverty and explore creative ways of addressing them.
Why South Lakeland?
There are pockets of relative poverty right across South Lakeland in the towns and in the rural areas, including a shocking percentage of children living in poverty.
In October 2020 South Lakeland District Council declared a Poverty Emergency and soon after that a group of local partners came together to work towards establishing a Poverty Truth Commission – to find out the real issues of people at the sharp end of poverty and use their experience to change things for the better.
How does it work?
The project is funded for two years.
The first phase has been about meeting and listening to people in poverty and helping them develop the confidence (where needed) to share their stories, at first in small groups and eventually at a public launch meeting. Those first Community Commissioners have then identified who they would like to talk to – in local government and other organisations – and those people were among those invited to the launch meeting on 13 October in Windermere to hear the presentations.
We are now into the second year of the project. At the end of October, a group of Business & Civic Commissioners joined the process at our first Full Commission meeting in Kendal. This Full Commission will meet monthly until next summer and, in time, it will also form Working Groups on themes that members have decided to explore in more detail to find practical changes that we can test and embed in the final phase of the project.
The Commission’s findings will be put into practice locally, where practical, but also shared with other commissions and policymakers regionally and nationally, so that nobody’s experience goes to waste.
What is CVS’ role in the project?
We are one of the founding members of the PTC Support Group and have offered to be the fundholders, recruiting and managing the two part-time members of staff – Stella Sukram, our Facilitator and Lois Sparling, our Coordinator – and also to support with communications and publicity.
Other members of that original Support Group have helped with publicity and recruitment to the project and will continue to share the project’s progress and findings. The project is largely funded by Westmorland & Furness Council, NHS Population Health and the National Lottery Communities Fund.
How can you get involved?
At the moment we’re looking for people willing to support the project in three ways:
- Sharing their experience of living in poverty (or introducing us to people willing to do that) – we need 15 people in total from across the district
- Providing venues and catering for our group meetings (ideally in Windermere, Ulverston and Kendal)
- Offering lifts to meetings for commissioners who don’t have their own transport or suitable public transport
- Offering childcare as necessary for commissioners attending meetings
Please get in touch!
If you can help in any way – or would just like to find out more – please contact Lois on firstname.lastname@example.org or ring on 07458 058536.