And that's a wrap
Gateshead Poverty Truth Commission launched in March 2020.
We did not know what lay ahead: the Covid-19 pandemic; years of Zooming rather than meeting in person; personal and national struggles.
We did know that we wanted to make change.
That, as people with lived experience of poverty, too often we felt powerless over the decisions made that affect our lives. Dee's poem puts it well:
The power is held by only a few
It’s certainly not me and I know it’s not you
Empty fridge, emergency gas
Gone are the days, gone are the laughs.
Dee, Community Commissioner writing in Jan 2020
The principles of a PTC can be summed up in our catchphrase: ‘nothing about us, without us, is for us’ and this is what we’ve been working on for the last two years. We’ve been growing change in Gateshead that starts with us, the people who know what it is to struggle against poverty.
This has involved meeting with an equal number of Civic and Business Commissioners. People who hold power in the system but who also want to see change. Together we have listened deeply and worked together to begin building a better system for everyone.
At the time of writing this, in March 2022, we are preparing to end this cycle of Gateshead PTC. We'll be publishing a report and running an event about what we've been working on together. It hasn’t always been easy or straightforward, and there is certainly lots more to be done, but we are proud of all we have achieved and learnt together. But the work is not done.
We want to see an end to poverty in Gateshead and everywhere.
We believe that the best way to do this is to include the people that experience poverty in the rooms where decisions are made.
We hope that this report has demonstrated that when this happens meaningfully, change begins to grow.
We have planted the seeds of change in Gateshead. We are:
running design sprints to change the lettable standards of council housing;
including the experience of families who need incontinence care in shaping their provision;
running a reverse mentoring scheme where those with lived experience mentor people with power and influence in Gateshead;
partnering with others to share the best ways to include people with lived experience of poverty in shaping their work;
launching a charter to bring a diverse range of organisations along with us.
but this is just the beginning. We hope that our work will continue by a changing culture and attitude towards people who experience poverty.
Will you join in help us grow change in Gateshead by nurturing the seeds of change?
Gateshead Poverty Truth Commissioners, March 2022