By Dr Natalija Atas and Dr Vicki Dabrowski, Liverpool Hope University
A momentous gathering happened in Liverpool last month, uniting 160 people who represented over 87 different regional and national institutions, NGOs and charities.
Hosted by Liverpool Hope University, the ‘Cost-of-Living’ conference brought together advocates working to eradicate the pressing issues of poverty and inequality.
Vital conversations about the causes and wide-reaching impacts of the cost-of-living crisis were held, shedding light on some shocking statistics. It was revealed that 34% of children (900,000) in the North of England were living in poverty during the pandemic and 150,000 children in the North West do not currently have their own bed – instead, they are sleeping on hard flooring, sofas, air mattresses, or sharing with other family members.
In addition, End Furniture Poverty data showed that 230,000 people in the region live without a freezer, and 110,000 people are living without a washing machine.
While we, as the conference organisers, acknowledged that the cost-of-living crisis is only an acute symptom of long-standing issues of poverty and inequality, we also emphasised that it is a moment where more people than ever understand and can empathise with experiences of hardship and deprivation.
Therefore, we argued that the crisis presents a unique opportunity to mobilise and drive real change in tackling these issues, both regionally and nationally. There was a strong consensus in the room that the only way to achieve a more equal and empowered society is through collective action.
The Poverty Research and Advocacy Network (PRAN) was launched at the conference. PRAN is an independent, collectively run advocacy network that will create a research and knowledge-sharing platform on the broad issue of social inequality. Its advocacy work will focus on changing popular and stigmatising discourses on poverty that work to hinder social progress. It will be an interactive and dynamic platform, incorporating elements such as newsletters and a podcast series. These will be freely accessible to the public.
PRAN aims to bring together various stakeholders to amplify voices fighting against injustice, both regionally and nationally. Third-sector representatives, activists, politicians, civil servants, academics, researchers, lawmakers, journalists and members of the general public are encouraged to join the network. This wide representation is vital to the ethos of the network – established around the belief that only collective, coordinated action can escalate the fight against poverty.
Poverty should be understood as a structural issue created by the negligence of basic human needs and a series of poor political policies and choices. Poverty is a violation of basic human rights and a debilitating human experience. The fight against poverty is therefore possible through change – by working together to raise awareness and dismantle existing misconceptions about the experiences and causes of poverty. This is the top priority on the PRAN agenda.
For more information about how to join the network, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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