Fighting together for free access to justice

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By Tom Skinner

Under austerity, welfare reform and cuts to essential services have resulted in not only financial hardship but also confusion about how to access support, disproportionately affecting people in poverty who rely more on those services. In that context, reliable accessible to advice and justice can be a crucial lifeline to millions of people in need or support, advice and information to help them maximise their incomes, minimise their exposure to financial shocks, and navigate the changing support services available to them.

Unfortunately, this type of support has come under huge pressure in recent years. The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) removed more than £350m from the Legal Aid budget and ended the right to legal representation in many areas of the law. Funding for Citizens Advice Bureaux from cash-strapped local authorities and from other agencies was significantly reduced, and law centres closed at an astonishing rate  – Greater Manchester, which once had nine law centres, now has only three, in Bury, Rochdale and Manchester.

This is why Greater Manchester Poverty Action endorses Greater Manchester Law Centre’s manifesto, “Fighting Together for Free Access to Justice”, a vision of a fairer society in which everyone has a part to play. It calls for:

  • Law Centres to enforce the legal rights of individuals and campaign with others for change.
  • The restoration of a fully funded legal aid system to sit alongside publicly funded and accountable health, social security, transport and housing services.
  • A supportive social security system.
  • A new generation of social welfare lawyers, developing and retaining legal expertise in social welfare law.
  • The right to a secure home and the protection of renters’ rights.
  • An end to the hostile environment for claimants and migrants, including adequate compensation for those
    affected by the Windrush scandal.
  • Collaboration between legal and advice services, community groups and campaigning organisations to launch strategic legal challenges to injustice

 

Free access to Justice editorial article for GM Poverty Action

Tom Skinner, GMPA Co-Director

By working together we can build towards a country and a city region that ensures access to justice, so we encourage you to read the manifesto to see what role you could play.

 

 

 

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VCSE Policy Position Paper

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The VCSE Devolution Reference Group with support from colleagues at GMCA have developed a VCSE Policy Position Paper which sets out a long term ambition for the VCSE sector in GM.

Please share your views on the draft Paper. Does it describe a way forward that is meaningful for all VCSE organisations?  The paper builds on the Accord with Mayor of Greater Manchester and GM Combined Authority (GMCA), and the Memorandum of Understanding with the GM Health and Social Care Partnership.

It is intended to be really ambitious, describing a future role equal to those of the state and business. It sets out what our sector could bring over the next 25 years to Greater Manchester people and communities, and what would need to be done to enable it, including investment.

It isn’t an action plan, but after the Policy Paper is finalised in November an ‘implementation and transformation plan’ will be developed over the following year in each of the 10 localities as well as for Greater Manchester. The plans will vary, but will all be co-designed with relevant partners within the broad framework set out in this Paper.

Please respond to the online survey by September 30th 2019.

 

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GMPA launches new Mini Poverty Monitor resource

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By Graham Whitham

At GMPA we have developed a new page on our website detailing some of the key statistics about poverty and people’s experiences of living in Greater Manchester. The aim of the ‘Mini Poverty Monitor’ is to support people to access data about poverty quickly and easily. Data is provided either at a Greater Manchester level and/or a local authority level (detailing statistics for each of the ten GM boroughs).

The page is broken down into seven sections: Child poverty, Housing, The labour market, Social security, Education, Health and Fuel poverty, food poverty and the poverty premium. The monitor does not present an exhaustive list of statistics relating to poverty in Greater Manchester, but it is a snapshot of key indicators that we know are of interest to members of our network.

The poverty monitor highlights the stark differences in the experiences of people living in different parts of Greater Manchester. Drawing on a range of existing datasets the monitor shows that:

  • Child poverty is highest in Manchester at 45% and lowest in Trafford at 19%.
  • Workers living in Oldham are paid on average £5 less per hour than workers in Trafford.
  • A third of adults (33%) in Oldham lack level 3 (equivalent to A-level) qualifications compared to 18% of adults in Trafford.
  • People working in Rochdale are nearly three times more likely to be in jobs paying at or below the National Minimum Wage/National Living Wage than people working in Salford.
  • Men born in Stockport can expect to live to 80 compared to 76 in Manchester, whilst women born in Trafford can expect to live 4 years longer than their counterparts in Manchester.
  • School readiness among girls is highest in Trafford at 81.5% and lowest in Oldham at 68.7%. For boys it is highest in Trafford at 67.3% and lowest in Oldham at 54.3%.

The data masks some of the huge inequalities within boroughs, including those local authority areas that are often perceived as more affluent. For example, in Trafford the ward with the highest rate of child poverty is Clifford ward where nearly half (48.2%) of children are in poverty. This contrasts with Timperley ward which has the lowest child poverty rate in the borough (15.2%).

GMPA is calling on each of the ten local authorities and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to develop robust anti-poverty strategies and appoint a lead for tackling poverty. This would ensure that poverty doesn’t ‘fall between the cracks’ of different local authority agendas, that effective local efforts to tackle poverty are scaled up and replicated more quickly and help create a unified voice against poverty across Greater Manchester.

Graham W UK poverty strategy article for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham Director, GM Poverty Action

We know from our network that there are some exciting initiatives in different parts of Greater Manchester seeking to address poverty and give everyone a fair chance in life.

If you have any comments about the Mini Poverty Monitor please contact us by email.  GMPA is keen on developing a more comprehensive poverty monitor in the future. Please contact us if this is something you could support us with.

 

 

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The Northern Powerhouse: 5 years in

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by Marcus Johns, IPPR

The North of England is rising up the list of priorities for both the government and opposition. Recently, we saw 33 regional newspapers launch the #PowerUpTheNorth campaign, while both Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson have delivered major speeches about the North, in the North.

June saw the fifth anniversary of the Northern Powerhouse Agenda. But looking back, the reality has fallen a long way short of the initial rhetoric. The impact of austerity has been severe and many northerners have suffered as a result – IPPR North analysis found the North saw a £3.6 billion public spending cut from 2009/10 to  2017/18, while spending actually rose by £4.7 billion in the South East and South West.

These cuts, and wider changes to the economy over the period, mean that the number of jobs paying less than the Real Living Wage rose by 150,000, and the number of northern children living in poverty rose by 200,000.

For those of us living in the North, its many strengths are clear: from universities to renewable energy assets on its coasts. Most of all it is clear in the talents, hard work and creativity of its people.

But Westminster is still holding us back and life is getting worse for too many people as a result. The next phase of the Northern Powerhouse must address this.

And that’s why some of the changes that might appear superficial could be the most important in the long term.

Five new metro mayors governing 47 per cent of the North’s population have made their presence felt. Greater Manchester’s Mayor has undoubtedly been a loud voice calling for change and has made it impossible for central government to ignore the region. Transport for the North has brought forward a plan for Northern Powerhouse Rail and more – totalling £70 billion of investment.

These changes cannot make up for austerity and shouldn’t be allowed to obscure the reality of life for many northerners. But the North must seize the opportunities within its grasp, because it cannot afford to wait indefinitely for an alternative government, and austerity could be even more difficult to weather without further devolution.

This agenda remains an important vision of what the North could be; a positive alternative to the ‘North-South divide’ narrative that implicitly writes off the North’s future.  That is why we think the North’s leaders should improve the Northern Powerhouse agenda, rather than cast it aside in favour of some yet-to-be-formulated alternative.

We have already seen the green shoots of this agenda. Osborne’s initial vision was narrowly focused on connecting the cities of Manchester and Leeds to drive productivity. Now — in the policies of Northern leaders and even in the rhetoric of the new Prime Minister —  the focus has shifted: it is starting to encompass northern towns alongside its cities; it is focusing on social infrastructure, not just faster trains; and it is prioritising northerners’ quality of life and work. In practice, the new Mayors have used their limited powers broadly, helping homeless people, developing employment charters and providing discounted transport for young people.

Recently in Manchester, the new Prime Minister’s rhetoric hinted at a shift in focus too. He pointed to inequality between places that are economically successful, and those a ‘few miles away’ where young people feel ‘hopelessness’. There are clear parallels to draw with Theresa May’s infamous ‘burning injustices’ speech. Yet, little action emanated from May’s rhetoric and we await to see what really emanates this time. Given recent experience, northern people are entitled to a healthy scepticism.

If the new Prime Minister is sincere, his first move should end local government austerity. He should then deliver on the devolution he has promised and ensure that all local authorities receive the funding they need to meet the needs of their residents so that the North will never again be forced to deliver Westminster’s austerity.

Marcus Johns article for GM Poverty Action

Marcus Johns, IPPR North

For the northern children growing up in poverty – their futures blighted by austerity – and for all northerners being held back by Westminster’s failures, it is time to act. It is time for the North to be properly resourced so that our leaders can make policy accountable to its people: a Northern Powerhouse that is truly of the North, for the North and by the North.

 

i3oz9sThe Northern Powerhouse: 5 years in
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Poverty and Inequality

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By Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth

Photo of Debbie Abrahams for Oldham Fairness Commission article for GM Poverty Action

Debbie Abrahams MP

In May, on the 49th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Equality Trust published analysis of the CEO pay ratios, gender pay gaps and gender bonus gaps in FTSE 100 companies revealing the ongoing pay inequality across different sectors[1]. It followed on from the ONS reporting in February of the increase in income inequalities in 2018 as measured by the Gini coefficient (it increased from 31.4 to 32.5).  The average income of the poorest fifth of the population after inflation contracted by 1.6% in the last financial year, while the average income of the richest fifth rose by 4.7%.[2] And ‘Fat Cat Friday’ in January exposed that top executives were earning 133 times more than their average worker. The ratio was 47 in 1998.[3]

Last year’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission report showed that the poorest tenth of households will on average lose about 10% of their income by 2022 – equivalent to £1 in every £8 of net income[4]. This reflects other distributional analyses, for example from the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

Much is also known about inequalities in wealth: the richest 1,000 people in the UK have wealth estimated at £724bn, greater than the wealth of the poorest 40% at £567 billion[5]. This privileged 1,000 saw their income increase by £66bn in one year alone, and £255bn over the last 5 years.

The impact of these inequalities on life expectancy, which is now stalling after decades of growth, has not gone unnoticed[6]. For women, the gap is the largest since the 1920s. For older women life expectancy is actually reversing. The data also indicates that deprived areas, where people on low incomes are most likely to live, also have lower life expectancy rates. The analysis shows that whilst the USA and some European countries are seeing this life expectancy slow down, it is worst in the UK. Interestingly, this doesn’t appear to be a developed country phenomenon as Japan, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark have all seen continuing increases in life expectancy.

This stalling in life expectancy has been picked up the actuaries. PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimates that ‘[a] sharp slowdown in the improvement to life expectancy could wipe £310bn from the pension deficits of thousands of UK companies with final salary schemes’, equivalent to a 15% reduction.[7]

There is also a persistent north–south divide in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, with, for example, people residing in southern regions of England on average living longer and with fewer years in poor health than those living further north. For example, in 2015–17, life expectancy at birth for men was lowest in Blackpool and highest in Hart in Hampshire, with a difference of about nine years. For women, life expectancy was again lowest in Blackpool and highest in East Dorset, with a difference of about six years. Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales all had lower life expectancies than England.[8]

And the poverty that more and more of our children are growing up in is having a devastating effect on them with an increase in child mortality and decline in children’s health as a direct result.[9]

None of this is new. Seminal works such as the Health Divide[10] back in 1987 first highlighted this. The Spirit Level[11] ten years ago showed that in societies and communities where the gaps between the rich and poor are narrow, life expectancy, educational attainment, social mobility, trust and more, increases.  In addition, more equal societies see economic benefits as described by the International Monetary Fund[12]. Fairer, more equal societies benefit everyone.

Wilkinson’s and Pickett’s most recent work, The Inner Level[13], examined how more equal societies reduce stress and improve everyone’s wellbeing, unpicking the evidence of the pathophysiological pathways and mechanisms through which inequalities act to affect our health and wellbeing, physical, mental, emotional and more.

Our health and longevity depend on how and where we are able to live, which in turn depends on our financial means. But on top of this, there is an independent and universal effect that reflects our positions in a hierarchy: our ‘class’, status and relative power[14].

But I believe it is the impacts of these inequalities in power that are worthy of greater exploration and analysis. For example, political power includes the states ‘power to’ do many things on behalf of the general population, but given the falling turnout at elections do our citizens feel this political power vested in our politicians is more about ‘power over’ rather than ‘power with’? How can our political and electoral systems ensure more effective involvement of citizens in political life so that the state is bound to the ‘common good’?

There’s more to be done on inequalities in everyday or practical power too. The powerlessness people experience on a daily basis is immense: struggling to access services to get housing repairs done; being on a zero hours contract and not knowing from one week to the next how many hours you may be working and what your income will be; having your social security claim refused or delayed in a way that dehumanises the claimant; or, being in pain and unable to get the timely treatment you need from the doctor. How much control we feel we have over our lives, our self-efficacy or personal power can in turn have an immense impact on our emotional and physical health as we know from, for example, the Whitehall Studies[15].

I became a politician to tackle these inequalities. I believe we need action at all levels to address them. At a national level, I am hopeful that the recently launched Deaton Inquiry into inequalities will look at the power inequalities I have described, including their inter-relationship between each other. Similarly, the work of the APPG for Health in All Policies which I chair, is currently examining the health impacts of the 2016 Welfare Reform and Work Act, particularly on children and disabled people.

At a Greater Manchester level, I am delighted that the GM Mayor, Andy Burnham, will soon be launching a GM Fairness Commission. And in Oldham, as we review the progress from the Oldham Fairness Commission, we will be also looking at how we can work differently across all sectors, tackling the inequalities in practical power too many of our citizens experience.

 

[1] https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/pin-money-fat-cats-pay-inequalities-ftse-100

[2]https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/incomeandwealth/bulletins/householdincomeinequalityfinancial/yearending2018

[3] https://www.cipd.co.uk/about/media/press/fat-cat-friday-2019

[4] https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/impact-of-tax-and-welfare-reforms-2010-2017-interim-report_0.pdf

[5] https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/wealth-tracker-18

[6] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45096074

[7] https://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2018/02/20/jech-2017-210401.info

[8]  https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/datasets/lifeexpectancyatbirthandatage65bylocalareasuk

[9] https://adc.bmj.com/content/early/2019/05/15/archdischild-2018-316702

[10] Whitehead, M, (1988) The Health Divide. Pelican Books

[11] Wilkinson, R, Pickett, K, (2009) The Spirit Level. Allen Lane/Penguin

[12] http://www.imf.org/external/np/fad/inequality/#4

[13] Wilkinson, R, Pickett, K, (2018) The Inner Level. Allen Lane/Penguin

[14] http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/74737/E89383.pdf

[15] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213858718301402?via%3Dihub

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NRPF and the Lalley Centre

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No Recourse to Public Funds – the Lalley Centre experience

by Julia Coultan, Community Services Manager, Caritas Salford

Lalley Centre logo for NRPF article for GM Poverty ActionThe Lalley Centre, one of the community projects of the charity Caritas Diocese of Salford, helps people from across North Manchester who are struggling to feed their families and to make ends meet. We provide food support, help and advice to many people . One of the groups of people who come to us for help are those directly affected by the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) legislation, which is not very well known. We wanted to highlight the situation that people subject to NRPF find themselves in, and how hard it is for them to support themselves and their families.

NRPF status was introduced via the 1999 Asylum and Immigration Act, and further widened in 2012. People with NRPF status are not allowed to claim benefits or to seek work. This status can last for up to 10 years, while people negotiate the costly and lengthy immigration processes. Many of these people are families with children, and these children sometimes have British citizenship, but are not given access to basic support such as benefits and free school meals like other children in their position receive. They lose out on these vital lifelines to prevent people falling into poverty, simply due to the NRPF status of their parents.

Some research recently published by The Unity Project, which is based in London and supports people with NRPF status, found that nationally, the NRFP policy disproportionately affects women, and people from BME communities. Our experience in North Manchester certainly bears this out. In 2018/19 – 22% of our Lalley Centre food bank members (36 out of 164 members) had NRPF status.

So far in 2019/20, 16% of our Lalley Centre food bank members had NRPF status. These family groupings consist of 17 women, 7 men, and 35 children. 10 of these families are female single parent households.

All the families are from BME communities.

Julia Coulton, NRPF article for GM Poverty Action

Julia Coulton

The Home Office has recently agreed to review its policy regarding NRPF, but in the meantime its consequences are that children are living in poverty and unable to access the basics like a hot meal and adequate clothing.

You can read the full Unity Project report, “Access Denied: The cost of the ‘no recourse to public funds’ policy” here

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Food Power Conference

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Reflections on the 2019 Food Power conference

By Rebecca St. Clair and Megan Blake

Last month, Food Power, an initiative that helps local communities and alliances work collaboratively to reduce food poverty, held their second annual conference in Newcastle. We went to represent the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance, and as it so closely followed the launch of the GM Food Poverty Action Plan, the conference provided the ideal opportunity for us to hear from groups at a more advanced stage of action plan implementation, and to share our experiences with those just beginning on the journey of forming alliances or partnerships.

The event kicked-off on the Tuesday evening with a get-together at Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books. The venue reflected an integral theme of the conference, around sharing experiences, learning from one another and telling stories. The Men’s Pie Club, a project that brings people together to cook while combatting social isolation and mental and physical health problems, provided delicious pies for everyone. After our meal, we heard about the Darwen Gets Hangry campaign and Edgelands, a film made by young people, about young people and food poverty.

Wednesday was structured around a series of parallel workshops and key themes from our perspective included:

  • Local knowledge and a place-based approach
  • Action plans and advocacy informed by research and collaboration
  • Inclusivity

In a workshop discussing the role of networks and national programmes, questions raised included:  Can national campaigns effectively support experts in localities while being aware of local sensitivities and avoiding the duplication of efforts? How can national programmes ensure they communicate with all the relevant local people/community groups, particularly when landscapes shift so frequently? Conversely, where can local groups go to find out about national campaigns? It seems that there is a need for easily accessible information about national and local initiatives and while the Sustainable Food Cities website details numerous campaigns and food partnerships, the lists are by no means an exhaustive. As Kath Dalmeny of Sustain observed, navigating networks and activities can be a messy process, but this often seems unavoidable.

In a workshop on the development of alliances and action plans, Moray Foodbank spoke about their food poverty action plan and the research carried out to support its development. During focus groups and interviews, the group learnt that people experiencing food poverty were often exposed to judgemental attitudes from professional service providers and it became clear there is still a desperate need to remove the stigma around food poverty. As a result, Moray included this as the top priority of their action plan. Others seeking guidance on framing conversations about food poverty may find the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Project Twist a useful point of reference.

Regarding the need for partnerships and alliances to be inclusive, ideas raised included varying the location of meetings to give everyone the best chance of attending; identifying common aims and ensuring participation is mutually beneficial; recruiting experts by experience first (Oxford used this approach and reported that it has worked well).

Rebecca St Clair Food power confernece article for GM Poverty Action

Rebecca St. Clair

One workshop focused on the Healthy Start voucher scheme, designed to support families with young children and pregnant mothers on low incomes to buy fruit, vegetables and milk. The vouchers, which must be signed-off by health professionals, are allocated per child/per week and distributed on a monthly basis. Currently only 64% of eligible households claim their vouchers, so Food Power is working to raise awareness and increase uptake. Sustain’s Healthy Start toolkit outlines actions that can be taken on a range of levels.

Megan Blake Food power article for GM Poverty Action

Megan Blake

The conference gave us a real sense of the pride that Newcastle has in its history, its reputation for hospitality and community spirit and its food heritage. As with many areas, Newcastle has suffered sustained cuts to local services and witnessed the all-too-familiar trends of more people accessing food banks, finding themselves at the mercy of precarious employment, low wages and a weakened welfare system. A message that featured throughout the event was that while organisations and individuals are rightly proud of their communities coming together and supporting those most in need, they are simultaneously outraged by the very existence of food poverty. Clearly, local action should take place alongside campaigns for national-scale structural adjustments and longer-term planning to ensure the continuation of place-based forms of support that help to restore and strengthen our communities.

 

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Unlimited Potential: Living Wage Champion Awards

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Unlimited Potential wins ‘Against All Odds industry’ award for dedication to real Living Wage

At the national Living Wage Champion Awards, Salford-based Unlimited Potential was recognised for its role in leading the way and demonstrating that not only is paying the Living Wage possible in low-paid industries but that by doing business differently, they can change the industry for the better.

Awarded the ‘Against All Odds Industry’ Champion Award for its dedication to spreading the real Living Wage in health and care in Salford, Unlimited Potential  is also tackling the challenge of outsourced and sub-contracted services by promoting the real Living Wage within procurement.  This is the second national Living Wage Champion award that Unlimited Potential has received, having won the Industry Leadership Award in 2018.

Unlimited Potential 2019 LW award for GM Poverty Action

Robert Stephenson-Padron (Penrose Care), Chris Dabbs, Marcia Powell, (Unlimited Potential) Martin Lewis (MoneySavingExpert.com)

Chris Dabbs, Chief Executive, said: “We are very proud to have been given this award and to pay the real Living Wage. Paying the real Living Wage is simply the right thing to do and we really hope that other local employers follow our lead. We are aiming to spread the real Living Wage in health and care across Greater Manchester.”

The real Living Wage is currently £9.00 per hour across the UK (£10.55 in London). Unlike the government’s ‘National Living Wage’ it is independently calculated based on the cost of living. There are over 5,400 Living Wage employers in the UK including 27 in Salford, of whom 11 are in health and care.

“We are pleased that almost every main health and care organisation in Salford is an accredited Living Wage employer” continued Chris. “We were especially pleased that Aspire, a social care provider in Salford, also won a Living Wage Champion Award this year for going Beyond the Living Wage.”

Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “The last year has been particularly successful for the Living Wage Foundation as we’ve seen through the 5,000th Living Wage accreditation. Our awards are an opportunity to recognise the fantastic businesses who continue to recognise the importance of a wage that truly covers the cost of living, and the value this provides for workers and their families, as well as businesses.”

For more information about Unlimited Potential please visit their website

In total there were five Living Wage Champions from Greater Manchester – an exceptionally strong showing from our city region. Congratulations from GMPA and the GM Living Wage Campaign to our partners Trafford Housing Trust, GM Citizens, Facilicom, Unlimited Potential, and Aspire.

 

i3oz9sUnlimited Potential: Living Wage Champion Awards
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Food Ladders

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A multi-scaled approach to everyday food security and community resilience
by Dr Megan Blake, University of Sheffield

Dr. Megan Blake is a member of Reference Group for GMPA’s Food Poverty Alliance. The Alliance  recommends place-based approaches to tackling food poverty, to complement city-regional and national action, and the following approach can be used to frame and inform those localised approaches.

Finding innovative interventions for building food secure communities

Food Ladders is a novel, evidenced-based approach for creating household and community resilience by building on the capacity of food to bring people together. Food Ladders is not like existing household food insecurity approaches that focus on the lack of good food within households that then feed that gap. Instead, Food Ladders activates food and its related practices to reduce local vulnerability to food insecurity and its knock-on effects.

Specifically, Food Ladders advocates for:
– Mobilising the more than nutrient, calorie and commercial aspects of food, such as its capacity to bring people together to foster shared understanding and collaboration;
– Creating safe and inclusive spaces for experimentation and interaction with food;
– Using a positive language of empowerment around food;
– Building place-specific levels of support that enable the recognition and enhancement of locally based skills and assets to create transformations in communities.

What is the Food Ladders approach?

Food Ladders are community scale interventions aimed at building local level resilience in the face of food insecurity. The approach was developed for low-income communities to address the wider effects that poverty has on health, wellbeing, and community cohesion. However, all communities can benefit from Food Ladders. The approach is not intended to replace national level campaigns, but instead complements those campaigns and may even foster activism. Food Ladders works with the specific characteristics of places to enable three levels of intervention These include:

Catching.  This first rung provides a starting point for those who are in crisis.  Such interventions might include emergency food aid, mental health support, access to social services, etc. Catching enables the ability to cope with a shock, whether that be the loss of a job, an unexpected large payment, debt, longer-term illness or relationship breakdown.

Capacity building to enable change.  This second rung supports those not currently in crisis, but who may be struggling to afford and/or access good food.  Activities include training programmes, shared cooking and eating activities, food pantries, children’s holiday clubs, and voucher schemes. Done in a manner that celebrates difference and is not stigmatising, activities provide residents with accessible choices that relieve the stresses that co-exist with low-incomes, expand skills, and enable the recognition of personal and local assets. These interventions connect people together by creating networks of trust and reciprocity through shared activity around food. This sort of intervention enables people and communities to be more adaptable by expanding what they can bring to the table to make change.

Self-organised community change.  This third rung supports communities to realise goals through self-organised projects that capitalise on what is good in communities. Projects meet community needs as residents identify them. Examples include developing a social enterprise based on community cooking knowledge that provides employment, community story-telling that leads to activism, cooperative food growing and food procurement that increases the local availability of good food, regular social cooking and eating activities to overcome loneliness, cross social divides and create intergenerational knowledge transfer.

What can Local Authorities, Community Organisations, Food Alliances and others do to support local Food Ladders?

There is a lot that these different types of organisations can do to support and build Food Ladders, including undertaking mapping, reflective reviews and evaluations of existing practices. There is a longer description of Food Ladders with pointers for how different types of organisations can start building food ladders in their area.

The research behind the Food Ladders approach:

Megan Blake Food article for GM Poverty Action

Megan Blake

Food Ladders was developed through a series of interdisciplinary research projects funded by the ESRC, MRC, and The N8 AgriFood Programme, involving local authorities, food industry actors, national charities and community organisations across the UK, which enabled a better understanding of what is working in communities and where different levels of resources and challenges are situated. A special mention goes to Gary Stott (Community Shop and Incredible Edible) and Samantha Siddall (ECO), Rupert Suckling (Doncaster Metropolitan Council), and the teams at Greater Manchester Poverty Action and FareShareUK.

If you would like to know more about Food Ladders please contact: Dr. Megan Blake, or Twitter: @GeoFoodieOrg. Megan is also an organiser of the Just Food Futures conference in July.

 

 

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MCC and the Living Wage

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Manchester City Council sets out its ambition to be an accredited Living Wage Employer

The Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign launched in 2013, and within months a supporter of the campaign, who was also a councillor, proposed a resolution for Manchester City Council to pay at least the Real Living Wage. The Campaign played an active role in the Task & Finish Group that followed, and the Council resolved to also attempt to roll out the Living Wage to the Council’s contracted workers.

One of our first successes was therefore with Manchester City Council, resulting in a pay rise for over a thousand workers. However, the Council was reticent at the time to make this a public long-term commitment by becoming accredited with the Living Wage Foundation. So while we celebrated the success and the resulting increases in take-home pay, we maintained that the job was incomplete.

Accreditation is the best platform from which to engage other employers and encourage them to implement the Real Living Wage. It commits employers to making a clear plan for the rollout of the Real Living Wage to their contracted and sub-contracted workers, and enables the Living Wage Foundation to support the employer to do so. Accredited by an independent organisation, it gives employers the right to use the Living Wage kite mark and to promote their credentials as a Living Wage Employer.

The Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign affirms the importance of accreditation, and has a vision of a Living Wage City Region in which all councils and other major employers accredit, and take action to bring other employers on board. We have raised this consistently in several subsequent meetings with the Council.

Tom Skinner editorial article for GM Poverty Action

Tom Skinner, GMPA Director

For this reason we are delighted to share that Manchester City Council has set out its ambition to be an accredited Living Wage Employer. They join Oldham in making this announcement, and seek to join Salford as fully accredited Living Wage Employers. We will support these Councils with this process, and call on the remaining seven GM join to join them as accredited Living Wage Employers.

If you would like to join us in action on the Real Living Wage but are not yet signed up to receive updates directly from the Campaign please email: livingwage@gmpovertyaction.org  with ‘Sign Up’ in the subject line.

 

 

 

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