It is the start of a new decade. New starts and new opportunities are popular themes for new year conversations, so let’s make sure that we are having these conversations with the right people. It’s important that the right conversations are being had with the right people to ensure these linked challenges are effectively addressed. The Addressing Poverty by Lived Experiences (APLE) Collective would like to be part of these conversations, and think we have something important to offer given our experiences and expertise on poverty and inequality.
It is easy to ask the ‘usual suspects’ how to solve poverty, but we will simply get the usual answers and consequently very little change. We are witnessing rising levels of child poverty, cuts to services, precarious job roles with zero hours contracts and people not being able to realise their potential. We need to start asking people who feel the impact of rising levels of inequality, who know how poverty feels, and start fighting poverty from a point of humanity armed with the knowledge and expertise borne from our communities of disadvantage. If you started 2020 with another food bank voucher, without money on the electric meter, wondering how you were going to pay all those bills that keep coming through the letterbox, then you will most likely have a sense of how poverty feels.
We need to be honest, we won’t solve poverty in 2020 but we can challenge the issues that continue to keep people from realising their potential. In 2020 the new government will make serious changes to policy and practice which will change the lives of people experiencing poverty. The new government has talked about listening to people who have felt left behind by the last few years of economic growth, so now, at the start of a new decade and a new government it is key to ensure that these serious policy and practice changes positively impact on people’s lived experience of poverty. The most effective way that we can do this is by listening, involving and responding to the voices of those of us with lived experience of poverty.
At the moment, too many people are marginalised by decision-makers and matters that affect the most vulnerable in society are made without their input. This leads to poorer decisions and policies, such as Universal Credit, and it also misses a golden opportunity to harness the commitment and insight of millions of people across our society.
It doesn’t have to be this way. As organisations with lived experience of poverty, we the APLE Collective are working to tackle poverty across the UK. Our aim is to create a sustainable, grassroots network across the UK to raise awareness of poverty, reduce stigma and work together with others to eradicate it. We are a growing collective of individuals and groups with lived experience of poverty who are working together, bringing our expert knowledge of working with local communities in our own areas to fully inform national anti-poverty debates.
Poverty is bad for everyone and we place value on people with direct experience of poverty having opportunities to affect the decisions that impact on them. Solutions can be found if we share best practice, take account of local knowledge and experience and listen to people who fully understand the impact of policy changes such as Universal Credit. It is only by working together with policy makers, practitioners and academics that solutions to addressing poverty both locally and nationally can be found. We believe meaningful change to eradicate poverty is only possible when this happens. We invite you to join us, to get involved and to contribute to our campaigning.
This is a guest blog and the views of the author are not necessarily those of The Equality Trust.