Changing the story on child poverty

a child sitting alone on a bench

Child poverty is devastating for children’s lives and societies – but often there is a disconnect between academic research, policy and practice; and children’s own experiences and ideas are often left out of decision making.

In partnership with The Children’s Society, The Child Poverty Action Group and Leeds City Council, Dr Gill Main’s research centres the expertise of children and families who have experienced living in poverty into how we understand what poverty is, how we measure it, and what we do to address it. This has enhanced what we know about the links between poverty, stigma, and well-being; and has created change in policy and practice – not only which policies are in place, but also to how policies are developed, with children’s voices included in this process.

Sue Rumbold, Chief Officer for Children and Families within Leeds City Council, explains how the research has changed Council policy and practice: “Within the council, there has been a paradigm shift in the ways that families who live in poverty are thought about due to this research, which has resulted in changes to policy and new approaches to policy making. This can be seen in reports to the strategic decision making board of Leeds City Council, within which findings from the research have been incorporated into both the child poverty strategy and reports on child poverty, which have been discussed and approved by the most senior officers and elected members of the authority.

In addition to this, the outputs from the research projects, such as videos and board games, have been used in training and events that have taken place with several hundred Headteachers, teachers, young people, third sector, private sector and public sector individuals. The training was well received, which demonstrates that Dr Main’s research is making a difference at multiple levels, not only at every level of the council, but across the city.”

You can find out more about Dr Main’s research in the following videos, co-produced reports, and academic articles:


Co-produced reports

Academic articles and book chapters

  • Howarth, C., Mansfield, M., McCartney, C. and Main, G. (2020) ‘A Different Take: Reflections on an intergenerational participatory research project on child poverty’. In Social Work and Society vol.18 no.3.
  • Main, G. (2018) ‘Fair Shares and Families: a child-focused model of intra-household sharing’. In Childhood Vulnerability Journal vol.1 no.1 pp31-49.
  • Main, G. (2018) ‘Money Matters: A nuanced approach to understanding the relationship between household income and child subjective well-being’.  In Child Indicators Research.
  • Main, G. (2017) ‘Child poverty and subjective well-being: The impact of children’s perceptions of fairness and involvement in intra-household sharing’.  In Children and Youth Services Review (available to read online).