Guest Blogs

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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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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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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GM Housing Providers Poverty Pledges

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GMFPA logo

GM Housing Providers report regularly on their attempts to tackle poverty (GM Housing Providers Spring 2019 Anti-Poverty Newsletter), and this month their pledges have been revamped to include many specific commitments to make the Food Poverty Action Plan a reality.  These include:

Action to reduce the “poverty premium”. We have pledged to work in partnership locally to identify the best deals for our customers on services such as access to technology, broadband and essentials such as white goods, furniture and clothing and to actively market these lower cost options.

Increase fuel vouchers provision and affordable white goods to ensure people have the fuel and equipment needed to cook meals. We have pledged to promote initiatives designed to reduce energy bills  and to improve access to financial advice and services for existing and prospective tenants

Establish more food clubs/food pantries, especially in areas that lack affordable healthy food. Housing providers already work with and support many of the Pantry type projects in GM and we have pledged to support the expansion of models that divert food waste.  We will also coordinate an effort which will support the expansion of bulk buy food and support further coordination of food banks and the development of food co-ops.

Open up unused land for food to be grown for community use and help to grow food for community use. We have pledged to increase initiatives to grow and access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables.

Show leadership in tackling low pay, insecure work, and unemployment – become accredited Real Living Wage employers – We have pledged to do this with over half of GM housing providers now accredited.

Develop and implement local procurement policies to source supplies locally, including but not limited to food. We have pledged to adopt a consistent approach to maximising the value of our procurement and supply chain by adopting and implementing the principles in the GMCA Social Value Policy.

All Local Authorities and Housing Associations should pledge to invest in new social housing. We have pledged to work collaboratively on development sites and schemes to maximise impact and reduce costs and continue to prioritise the delivery of low cost rented housing.

 

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New child poverty figures

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New local child poverty figures show worrying rises in poorest parts of the UK
By Graham Whitham

Today the End Child Poverty coalition launched updated local child poverty figures. With around three in ten children living in relative poverty in the UK, the local figures allow us to understand what those numbers mean at a local authority, parliamentary constituency and ward level. Not surprisingly there are huge variations across the country. Worryingly the figures show that child poverty is rising particularly rapidly in the most disadvantaged parts of major cities, especially London, Birmingham and Greater Manchester.Child poverty figures for GM Poverty Action

We are used to seeing figures that show Greater Manchester is home to some of the highest levels of poverty and deprivation in the country. These figures show that in some wards in our city region more than 50% of children are living below the poverty line.

The figures also details huge variations within Greater Manchester. A staggering 62% of children are living below the poverty line in Werneth in Oldham, compared to 13.4% in Worsley in Salford.Child Poverty nfographic for GM Poverty Action

There are also major variations within individual boroughs. The ward with the highest level of child poverty in Bolton is Great Lever, with a child poverty rate of 55%. The ward with the lowest rate in the same borough is Bromley Cross at 18.5%. Despite these variations, all ten boroughs in Greater Manchester are home to thousands of children living in poverty. The main figures are detailed at the end of this article.

The increases in child poverty seen across the UK in recent years are largely the result of cuts to working age benefits. Parents have seen the value of tax credits, Child Benefit and other support cut in recent years. The figures also underline how seemingly positive employment figures – low unemployment and record employment levels – aren’t translating into reductions in poverty and improved living standards. Too many people are trapped in low paying jobs or unable to get sufficient hours to work their way out of poverty.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond recently hinted at another significant increase in the minimum wage. This would be welcome but must sit alongside reversals in cuts to benefits and measures that increase in-work progression.

Alongside launching the local child poverty figures, End Child Poverty is calling on the Government to set out an ambitious and credible child poverty-reduction strategy, including:

  • Restoring the link between benefits (including housing support) and inflation, and then making up for the loss in the real value in children’s benefits as a result of the 4-year freeze and previous sub-inflation increases in benefit rates.
  • Ending the two-child limit on child allowances in tax credits and universal credit and reforming Universal Credit;
  • Reversing the cuts and investing in children’s services such as mental health, education, childcare and social care.
Graham W UK poverty strategy article for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham

As a member of End Child Poverty, Greater Manchester Poverty Action these calls.  We would also like to see the Government provide more support for local stakeholders to tackle poverty in their area. A national poverty strategy could help create a framework and provide guidance for local authorities and their partners to address child poverty  locally.

Mapping of anti-poverty strategies in 209 top-tier local authority areas in England and Wales by GMPA in 2018 found that 31 of the 209 have a child or family poverty strategy in place (for example Manchester) and a further 80 incorporate a focus on child and family poverty within a broader strategy (for example Salford) or set of strategies (for example Wigan). Whilst many local areas are pushing ahead with their own strategic approaches, the lack of poverty strategies in many areas highlights the need for greater leadership on this issue by central government.


Key findings*

ECP table 1 2019 for GM Poverty ActionECP Table 2.1 for GM Poverty Action

*Please note the figures we have shown here are for poverty after housing costs (AHC) are taken into account.

End Child Poverty have also published before housing costs (BHC) figures. The data for each Ward, Constituency and Local Authority is available in full at  http://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/poverty-in-your-area-2019/

 

 

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Rise in Child Poverty

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Latest government data shows a worrying rise in child poverty
By Graham Whitham

At the end of last month the government released the latest UK poverty statistics. The child poverty figures gained the most attention with the data showing a rise in the number of children living in deep or ‘severe’ poverty. This means that of the 4.1 million children in relative poverty, 2.8 million are in ‘severe’ poverty. There are 3.7 million children in poverty under the alternative absolute poverty measure.

Whilst pensioner poverty has remained low over recent year, there are signs that this is also starting to increase. The graph below shows how the poverty rate varies for different household types:UK Poverty Rates April 2019 for GM Poverty Action

Many readers will be aware of the rise in in-work poverty in recent years. An incredible 70% of children living in poverty are now in households where at least one adult is in work. Whilst children in households where no one is in work are still at greater risk of poverty, the rise of in-work poverty is a sign that employment is not an effective route out of poverty for many families.

The figures also showed a rise in inequality, with the incomes of the rich growing at a faster rate than those on lower incomes.

Some are projecting that the child poverty rate will reach a record 37% by 2022, breaking the record high of 34% set in the early 90s, unless action is taken. In response to the figures being published, End Child Poverty (ECP) called on all the major political parties to develop an ambitious and coherent child poverty reduction strategy ahead of the next General Election. ECP also wants to see an end to the benefit freeze and a full reversal of the two-child limit in his November budget.

Graham W UK poverty strategy article for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham, Director of GMPA

GMPA is a member of End Child Poverty and supports these calls. We are highly concerned about the impact of ongoing welfare cuts in Greater Manchester, where an estimated 620,000 residents are living in poverty.

ECP logo for GM Poverty Action

 

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Taking Action on Food Poverty

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Greater Manchester Takes Action Together on Food Poverty

In the month since we launched the Food Poverty Action Plan, we have been meeting leaders, businesses, and charities to ask what they will do to make the plan a reality. The response has been very positive, with over 30 organisations covering most of Greater Manchester’s boroughs, making more than 70 pledges of action and funding. The pledges will be published when the new Food Poverty Alliance coordinator is in post, so far they include:

  • Salford City Council and the Salford Food Share Network pledging to better coordinate and strengthen food
    support services across the city, while giving advice to other localised food support networks
  • Wigan Council influencing education providers to teach good food on a tight budget, rolling out a nutrition and hydration training programme with Domiciliary Care Staff, and many other pledges
  • Kellogg’s supporting 100 school breakfast clubs in Greater Manchester with cash grants totalling £100,000,
    helping to feed at least 5000 children
  • The Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford contributing £2,500 towards the cost of employing a Food Poverty Alliance coordinator
  • Many smaller organisations pledging to take action however they can, such as setting up food pantries, becoming accrediting Real Living Wage employers, and developing toolkits to help people and organisations tackle food poverty where they are, such as author Danielle Lowy from Chorlton Plant Swap who is writing “Nifty Thrifty Vegetable Gardening: Tips for growing your own food without costing the earth”

These pledges show Greater Manchester’s resolve to take action on hunger, and more than that, it shows an understanding that through coordinated strategic action we can start to address the underlying causes and ultimately work to eradicate food poverty in our city region.

We are also working to raise funds for a full-time coordinator, so would welcome pledges of financial support such as that made by Salford Diocese. The coordinator will:

  • drive forward the recommendations in the Action Plan at the Greater Manchester level
  • work in-depth in some neighbourhoods to pilot place-based approaches to tackling food poverty
  • keep the Alliance working together and bringing out the best in Greater Manchester’s response to food poverty
Tom for GMFPA article for GM Poverty Action

Tom Skinner, Director of GMPA

Can you pledge to take action on food poverty by starting to implement one or more of the actions in the Plan? Please email food@gmpovertyaction.org with PLEDGE in the subject line

 

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National Living Wage

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National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

HMRC wishes to raise awareness of the new rates of pay that will come into force when the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage increase on 1 April 2019 to ensure that all employers are at least paying their staff the legal minimum.

A website to assist employers is available and employers and employees can contact Acas for advice and support on a wide range of employment rights and responsibilities (or call 0300 123 1100 from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm but check your call costs first as they vary from 3p to 40p per minute).

HMRC also want to encourage low-paid workers to come forward to make sure they are getting the wages they are legally entitled to. They are looking to raise worker’s awareness of their entitlement and asking them to report any under-payments for HMRC to investigate if necessary.

HMRC believe that many people who are paid the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage still lose out on their full entitlement because of a series of common errors made by their employers. Workers often don’t realise that they are being short-changed and that it’s possible for them to get back the money they are owed.

The new rates of pay per hour after 1 April 2019 will be:

For Apprentices in their first year or under 19:      £3.90
For employees under 18:                                           £4.35
For employees aged 18 – 20:                                    £6.15
For employees aged 21 – 24:                                    £7.70
For employees 25 and over:                                      £8.21

Comment from GMPA, “Under-payment of the minimum wage is a major issue of in-work poverty, particularly exploiting workers from marginalised groups. We fully support HMRC in encouraging low-paid workers to come forward to make sure they are not being underpaid. However we take issue with the description of the minimum wage as a “National Living Wage”, which is misleading and confusing for employers and the wider public and does not reflect what is needed to achieve a decent standard of living. 

The real Living Wage is an hourly rate independently calculated to be enough for a decent minimum standard of living. That rate is £9/hr outside London, a new rate is calculated and announced every November in Living Wage Week, and we encourage employers to voluntarily commit to paying all of their staff that rate, and to become accredited as Living Wage Employers. Almost 150 employers across Greater Manchester have been accredited as Living Wage Employers, including Salford City Council, the GM Chamber of Commerce, and many businesses and charities. 

The so-called National Living Wage is a re-brand of the minimum wage, but it is not a living wage as it is not based on the cost of living. It could also be argued that it is not truly national as it does not apply to people under the age of 25. This distinction is important because both the minimum wage and the real Living Wage are valuable tools in the bid to end in-work poverty, and should not be allowed to confuse or to distract from each other. Please see the Living Wage Foundation’s explanation for further information.

 

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GMPA Training

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Training courses – book now!

We have three more training courses scheduled for the remainder of 2019. The next one is our one day ‘Understanding poverty data’ course on Thursday June 5th.

This course is for organisations and individuals who wish to strengthen the case for their work by presenting accurate and relevant data about poverty to funders, supporters and policy makers. It is suitable for researcher, third, public and private sector organisations.

The multitude of data and reports about poverty that are out there can make accessing the right data difficult. The contentious nature of poverty makes it particularly important to understand how poverty is measured and which figures are the most appropriate to use. By the end of this one-day course participants will have developed an understanding of what key poverty datasets tell us, how best to access data sources and how to use this knowledge to support the work that they do.

It is the third time we have run this course. Please book now to secure your place as the course was fully booked when we ran it in September 2018 and March 2019. Feedback from the course has been really positive with comments including:

“A complex and in-depth subject was covered in an interesting and informative manner”

“Great work – learnt loads”

“Good balance of presentation and group discussion”

Later in the year we will be running our ‘Exploring the Poverty Premium’ (September 11th) and ‘Risk of poverty among different groups’ (November 6th) courses.

About Exploring the Poverty Premium: Low income consumers in the UK face several disadvantages in the marketplace – known as the poverty premium. This course supports service providers, businesses and policy-makers to identify changes in policy and practice that can help mitigate the impact of the poverty premium, minimising the risk of debt and financial hardship among people on low incomes. This half day course will run on Wednesday September 11th.

About Risk of poverty among different groups: This course looks at trends in poverty in the UK among different groups. It is designed for organisations seeking to strengthen the case for existing projects or develop new projects aimed at tackling and preventing poverty and will also be of interest to researchers and policymakers seeking to develop a better understanding of poverty in the UK. Next available date is Wednesday November 6th.

Further information and booking forms for all these courses are available on our website

We have discounted rates for students, third/VCSE sector and public sector attendees.

All courses take place at Church House on Deansgate in the city centre, just a short walk from Manchester Victoria and from Exchange Square Metrolink station.

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Can you pledge?

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More than 50 pledges have been made by people and organisations across Greater Manchester, to implement the recommended actions in the Food Poverty Action Plan. Here Mylo Kaye from the charity “Pledge” talks about action that he is taking to tackle food poverty. Can you pledge to take action on food poverty by starting to implement one or more of the actions in the Plan? Please read the Action Plan and email to tell us what you will do to make the Food Poverty Action Plan a reality.

From earth to table, how local allotment growing is feeding people in poverty

By Mylo Kaye, CEO of Pledge

On an allotment in Stretford, a group of friends led by Kal Gill-Faci are spending most weekends clearing, weeding and getting the ground ready to sow fruit and vegetables that will soon make their way to the tables of Greater Manchester people. This natural, healthy, nutritious food is helping to combat food poverty.

Pledge article for GM Poverty Action

Kal Gill-Faci delivers fresh produce to Reach out to the Community

Humphrey Park allotments are home to Pledge, a local charity helping people living in poverty. The charity, started last year is focused on ending poverty for those living across Greater Manchester.

For the past year, food grown has been harvested and donated to other local charities such as Cornerstone, The Longford Centre, Barnabus, Mustard Tree, Reach Out to the Community & The Globe Food Pantry. These partnerships are vital to the success of ‘Plot for Poverty’ and the initiative couldn’t happen without them.

Over 7,400 meals will have been delivered to hungry people across our region by the Autumn, and with the only cost being time, it’s a win-win for local people in need and the charities cooking the fresh food. Typical fruit and veg that is grown are things like Kale, Potatoes, Cauliflower, Onions and Grapes, plus many more. The food makes its way from earth to table in a matter of hours.

Local children are also actively involved in the growing. Education around food poverty amongst people who are homeless is essential, these young people are our leaders of tomorrow and we need them to get involved and make their own change.

Mylo Kaye article for GM Poverty Action

Mylo Kaye

Individuals, groups and allotments across Greater Manchester are encouraged to get involved to help end food poverty in the region, by either starting their own ‘Plot for Poverty’ or by offering time and resources to Pledge to maximise growing efforts in the run-up to the Autumn months.

We can all make a massive impact by finding intuitive ways to help people living in poverty, but we can only do this by working together.

You can see a video of the project here

 

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