Poverty truth comission
Poverty Truth

Nothing about us, without us, is for us

Over the last few years, Thrive Together Birmingham have established and co-run Birmingham’s Poverty Truth commissions. 'Nothing about us, without us, is for us' is the motto for Poverty Truth Commissions. It’s a strong statement which points out that lasting social change is impossible if those impacted by struggles are excluded from tackling them.

2020 saw the start of the second Poverty Truth commission in Birmingham and this has recently ended its work. Crucial to its running was a group of Community Commissioners, all of whom have experienced the reality of poverty first hand. Initially, they shared stories of their personal experiences with one another to develop relationships and mutual trust. Next, they invited key strategic individuals and representatives from organisations to a dedicated event to listen to the stories they’d shared. After the event, some of those invited became Civic commissioners. The full commission promoted a facilitative, participatory model where all had equal voice and contribution to discussion and decision making.

Three themes for exploration were decided upon: Poverty and Health, Children and Families, Poverty, Health and Food and Poverty and Housing. Listening events in the round were set up for guests to be part of. The key messages were that poverty is not a choice, that poverty needs to systemically end and that change has to take place at societal, institutional levels to enable that to happen. Possible solutions to tackle poverty and issues raised in each listening event were recorded and taken forwards. In the final event, the following question was addressed: ‘How can we make our city a more equitable place, where all citizens’ voices are heard, and we flourish together?’

Though the Commission formally ended in the summer, those involved in the previous commissions are continuing conversations on understanding issues affecting those in poverty and considering how to resolve them.

Poverty truth comission

Over the years, Church Urban Fund and Together Network Members have supported a few other Poverty Truth Commissions across the country, including one in Leeds and one in the Black Country.

The Poverty Truth Network helps champion the involvement of those affected by poverty in tackling it. They do this in four ways:

  1. Helping local people and organisations set up Poverty Truth Commissions
  2. Supporting established commissions by networking commissioners and creating opportunities to learn together
  3. Amplifying the voices of commissions on themes and issues that are shared across the network
  4. Building partnerships with other organisations who want to alleviate poverty by having the lived experience in the lead

Get Involved

Interested in helping to set up a Poverty Truth Commission in your area or want to partner with a current one underway? Take a look at the map of current and future locations.

Commission Locations