What if people who have directly faced poverty had relationships with people of influence and those who make policy decisions that affect them? Would people listen to their experiences and if they did, would they better understand the challenges that poverty brings? Would it make a difference to the decisions that are being made?

Birmingham Poverty Truth is based on the idea that to really address poverty in Birmingham the real voices of people who have experience of living at the sharp end of poverty, in all sorts of different ways, need to not only be heard but involved in decisions about poverty. The question at the heart of Birmingham Poverty Truth is – what if people who have directly faced poverty were involved in decisions about poverty?

We have picked up the idea from Scotland and Leeds, (visit their website; Leeds or Scotland ) along with other parts of the country who have already run similar commissions.

We brought together people with stories to tell, and people of influence to listen to these stories. On 12th October 2017 we hosted a Launch event where our Testifying Commissioners presented their stories to an audience. This was a very powerful experience for all in the room.

Now, in Phase 2, a group of civic, business and faith leaders, and our ‘experts by experience’ of poverty in Birmingham are meeting together to build relationships, share experiences and think about how we might better respond to the challenges poverty brings. The aim is that an understanding of what life is like for those in poverty will inform policy decisions that affect them.

Ordinary people are being given the chance to tell their personal stories of struggling against poverty. By creating safe spaces for people to tell their stories and opportunities for those making and influencing decisions to listen, it is hoped that the experience will  deepen an understanding of the difficult and entrenched issues of poverty, improve perceptions and challenge stereotyping, and lead to better decision making by the city’s leaders across business, public and voluntary sectors.

The Birmingham Poverty Truth Commission is hosted by Thrive Together Birmingham.

Birmingham Poverty Truth is supported financially by grants from Barrow Cadbury Trust, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Seedbed Trust

We would also like to thank:                                                                                   Groundwork UK Lockside Birmingham for their generous support https://www.groundwork.org.uk/lockside