What happened during Challenge Poverty Week England and Wales 2021

 What happened during Challenge Poverty Week England and Wales 2021

Hundreds of people took part in Challenge Poverty Week England & Wales in the autumn, and called on decision-makers to work with people in poverty to tackle social injustice.

The week of campaigning and action in October included events online and offline, all over the country.

People share their experiences of poverty and what needs to change at the Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation

One of the highlights of the week took place on the opening day, when about 100 people attended the Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation at Central Hall in the city centre.

People with direct of experience shared their insights and expertise with local civic leaders and campaigners, and there was in-depth discussion about what needs to change locally. 

Speakers included Nadine from Manchester Poverty Truth Commission, who said it was vital to challenge poverty. She said that too often, stigma meant people were blamed instead of the oppressive policies that hold people back, and another speaker, Ed from Tameside Poverty Truth Commission, highlighted the impact of poverty on mental health.

Arooj Shah, leader of Oldham Council, was among the attendees who listened to people’s experiences, and Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, sent a video message.

Elsewhere, organisations in North East England held an event to discuss how taking a rights-based approach could challenge poverty, and several communities launched Worrying About Money? leaflets produced with the Independent Food Aid Network. The leaflets help people experiencing financial insecurity to easily identify and access appropriate support and advice. 

Other events included the launch of Navigating Storms, the report on lessons to learn from people’s food experiences during the pandemic. Many neighbourhood group held local events, and the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell wrote a supportive article in The Yorkshire Post, calling for the voices of people in poverty to be heeded. He wrote: 

“We must resolve to find ways to redesign our economic systems, to loosen poverty’s grip, so everyone can live a full and dignified life. We cannot and must not have a recovery where the wealthy can speed off down the fast lane, while others are left broken down on the hard shoulder.” 

Dozens of Church Action on Poverty supporters got involved too, writing to their MPs and councillors, asking what they were doing to challenge poverty.

Overall, 170 organisations took part over the course of the week, with 60 events taking place, and thousands of people followed the various discussions on social media, using the hashtag #ChallengePoverty.

This was the second Challenge Poverty Week England & Wales, following the success of the 2020 event. The week had begun in Scotland seven years ago, where it has grown to become a major national focal point for anti-poverty work and community groups. Thank you everyone who took part, attended events, or listened to people’s stories – and look out in the spring for details of the 2022 week!

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