An innovative project to help tackle the nightmare of poverty and its many causes has concluded in Trafford – with a number of recommendations for the future.
The Trafford Poverty Truth Commission (PTC), which was launched last year by Trafford Council, Trafford Housing Trust and its partners, met at Stretford Public Hall to share its final recommendations.
After many meetings and much discussion, the Commission - made up of 15 Trafford residents with lived experience of poverty and 18 Civic Commissioners from private, public and voluntary sectors - have come up with four main recommendations to help alleviate poverty in Trafford:
- Improve how Trafford residents access services – This will include the setting up of a special one stop shop in the borough where residents experiencing poverty can access information and advice with a focus on face-to-face advice rather than digital tools.
- Make public transport truly accessible for everyone – Public transport can prevent isolation and open up opportunities for people. The improvements being made in Greater Manchester should be developed in a way that involves people living in poverty.
- Continue to use the voice of people with lived experience in the development of policy and services in Trafford – The PTC has given people living in poverty a voice and given those responsible for key services the opportunity to engage with them. This model should be embedded across Trafford.
- Tackle mental health and isolation – Poor mental health, poverty and isolation are all linked and the PTC believes that by valuing mental health in the community, people will feel empowered to get involved in the community and feel less isolated.
The Civic Commissioners at the meeting, including those representing Broadoak School, Bruntwood, Irwell Valley, Lancashire County Cricket Club, Lostock High, Manchester United Foundation, Seymour Park Community Primary, Trafford College, Trafford Council, Trafford Housing Trust, Trafford Leisure, Trafford Local Care Organisation, Transport for Greater Manchester, promised to make a number of pledges to take into account the PTC’s recommendations.
Sara Saleh, Trafford Council’s Deputy Chief Executive and Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources, opened the meeting with an emotional speech about how the PTC had listened very carefully to the Community Commissioners to help bring about some of the changes needed to help alleviate poverty.
The meeting also heard from a number of Community Commissioners who again shared their heart breaking stories of struggle but maintained that the PTC had given them a voice and much hope for the future.
Cllr Jo Harding, Trafford Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Strategic Partnerships, and also a Community Commissioner, said after the meeting: “Can I please say a massive thank you to everyone who has worked so hard on this – you have all been incredible.
“I said in the meeting that my pledge was that this will not be a glossy report that sits on someone’s desk. This is real. I promise to work with residents and help them. Many have told us about their situations and they are heart breaking. Our Community Commissioners’ bravery is incredible – thank you so much for to everyone being so open and honest. We will work to these recommendations to do everything we can to help our residents who are struggling.”
Cllr Liz Patel, Trafford Council’s Executive Member for Economy and Regeneration, has been heavily involved in the PTC from the very beginning. Cllr Patel said: “The aim of the PTC was to get people together to help bring about the change that will impact positively on the lives of those living in poverty in the borough. That is exactly what we are doing and I am very proud of everyone who has worked so hard on this.
“I promise to keep working with residents in poverty and will not stop until we get the real change that is needed to help them live their lives poverty-free.”
Trafford Housing Trust has played a big part having helped set up the PTC with Trafford Council and Stretford Public Hall. Aileen Edmunds, Head of Social Impact at Trafford Housing Trust and Civic Commissioner for Trafford Poverty Truth Commission, said: “We are so pleased to have been able to co-fund Trafford’s Poverty Truth Commission. The clear and constructive recommendations detailed in the report will help shape policies and services across the borough.
“It has also been my privilege to be a part of the project as a Civic Commissioner, and to have had the opportunity to get to know and learn from a group of resilient, passionate people who despite battling the issues of poverty alongside mental health, childcare, physical health and other barriers, have volunteered their time, their story and their energy to influence a better society.”
The PTC team at Stretford Public Hall, including Kate Harding and Claire Vibert, said in a joint statement: “'The PTC has demonstrated the importance of listening to people with lived experience of poverty, and we are grateful for the commitment, honesty and determination from all of the Commissioners involved. We are really pleased to share the recommendations coming out of the Commission, and the positive response they received at the closing event. We are looking forward now to working with Trafford Council and partners across the borough to embed the recommendations, and make sure they are fully integrated into Trafford's anti-poverty work.”
Trafford Council has made supporting people out of poverty a corporate priority and the PTC will now work closely with the Council to feed its final recommendations into the authority’s Poverty Strategy. The PTC will also create a panel of experts with lived experience of poverty and will develop training for those delivering services. The PTC will meet again in the coming months to discuss progress with regards to their recommendations.
The full report can be found here https://stretfordpublichall.org.uk/ptc-final-report-march-2023/.
Posted on Monday 13th March 2023