The School launches project to improve representation of people living in poverty

SSP has launched a new project working with marginalised citizens to contribute towards ‘social change tackling poverty’ at the local and national level.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the project will be undertaken in close collaboration with Leeds Poverty Truth to bring together a range of ‘poverty experts through experience’ and civil society stakeholders from across Leeds.

Leeds Poverty Truth is an independent initiative to help address issues that contribute towards poverty across Leeds. It does so by running 18 month-long Commissions that bring together poverty experts and civic and business decision makers in the city to work together. The ethos guiding Leeds Poverty Truth and commissioners with direct experiences of poverty is that “nothing about us, without us, is for us”. Underpinning this ethos is a concern about the unequal representation and participation of low-income citizens in issues affecting everyday poverty and public services. 

Dr Daniel Edmiston, Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy, has recently undertaken research examining how and why citizens differ in terms of their attitudes towards welfare, poverty and inequality, and their engagement with public institutions and services. Amongst other things, the research found that:

  • Citizens living in poverty often lack specific socio-material resources and support to effectively engage with public institutions
  • Public services tend to be organised in ways that marginalise or exclude the voices and interests of those living in poverty
  • The general public are highly misinformed about poverty, inequality and who receives what from the welfare state

In collaboration with Leeds Poverty Truth Commission and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, these research findings informed the development of this project, which seeks to enhance opportunities and conditions for the civic representation and participation of marginalised citizens and to improve public understandings of welfare, poverty and inequality in the process.

Through a series of events that capitalise on the expertise and experience of Leeds Poverty Truth and examine this alongside academic research, participants will co-produce a range of resources and materials. These will be used to amplify the voices and experiences of citizens living in poverty, build the capacity of Leeds Poverty Truth and provide recommendations for similar initiatives nationally going forward.