Speaking to Power: Global Protest to Fight Inequality

On 18 January 2020, Patricia Bailey spoke on behalf of ATD Fourth World and the APLE Collective at the “Speaking to Power” global protest organised by the Equality Trust in Whitehall, London.

Good afternoon. I am Patricia Bailey from ATD Fourth World, a human-rights based anti-poverty organisation with more than fifty years experience of tackling inequality and promoting social justice in the UK. Working in partnership with people affected by poverty, ATD Fourth World has, since 1968, concentrated its efforts on supporting families and influencing policy.

Today I stand here also as a member of the APLE Collective (Addressing Poverty through Lived Experience), a national collective of individuals and organisations who have experienced or are experiencing poverty. We have been building our group for nearly two years now, but we hope to keep growing and welcoming others. Our aim is to create a sustainable, grassroots network across the UK to raise awareness of poverty, reduce stigma and work together with others to eradicate it.

We are a network that promotes the voice of those with lived experience of poverty and that works collaboratively with others across society to use that voice to effect change. In the APLE Collective, everyone in the network has an equal opportunity to have their voice heard.

We believe that the solution to poverty everywhere is to work in partnership with people who have lived experience of poverty at every level.

  • We create a supportive space for the coming together of individuals with direct experience of poverty to build relationships of trust and mutual understanding.
  • We work together at a national, regional or local level to promote the voices and influence of those with lived experience of poverty on the decisions that impact them and to raise awareness of and reduce the stigma associated with poverty.

Why is it important to recognise the expertise and experience of people living poverty?

Because we are the voice of our communities with the skills and experience to influence change. We are solution-focused and innovative. We have seen how bad policy decisions have had a negative impact on people who are already struggling. Being part of the decision-making process can prevent further suffering in low-income communities.

I would like to share one positive example of an impact in policy development through the involvement of people with lived experience. Several of us from the APLE Collective are also part of Poverty2Solution (P2S). This is also a group of people with lived experience of poverty. P2S has been working on a project to enact the socio-economic duty and stop discrimination against people living in poverty.

We were tired of feeling that our voices and experiences were ignored in policy-making discussions and debates, so we developed the “Do Your Duty for Equality” campaign, making the case for enacting the socio-economic duty.

We worked very hard to go out and meet many MPs. We went to the Labour Party Conference and sent letters to all the party leaders. We had some success and built some relationships with MPs.

It’s time that our voices and knowledge are included around the table when discussing policy. Seeing our work mentioned in the Labour Party manifesto was really important because we represent the forgotten voices of people in poverty. This is a sign that someone is listening for a change.

Now we are beginning to be listened to. We live in hardship every day: deciding whether to eat or put on the heating; not knowing where our next meal is coming from; struggling to understand the ever-changing benefits system; and feeling guilty for claiming benefits. Things need to improve for everyone. By working together we can make changes.

Our next job is to start to build up relationships with the new Government over the coming years and hope that our voices will be taken into account. We don’t want to give up. The more we work together and build relationships the stronger we can be.

Our door is always open and if you are interested in joining the APLE Collective or ATD Fourth World, let me know.*

Poverty is bad for everyone. We place value on people with direct experience of poverty having opportunities to affect the decisions that impact on them.  We believe meaningful change to eradicate poverty is only possible when this happens.

Thank you for listening.

To learn more about ATD Fourth World or the APLE Collective, please contact atd@atd-uk.org.

To watch a video snippet of the rally, please click here.