Welcoming APLE month in Frimhurst

As some may know, ATD Fourth World is a proud member of the APLE (Addressing Poverty with a Lived Experience) Collective, a sustainable, grassroots network across the UK that raises awareness of poverty, and works together with others to reduce stigma and eradicate poverty. Below, Sophie Rhys recounts a recent APLE event.

Though members of the collective are spread wide across the UK, on sporadic happy occasions we have the luck of gathering in person for a residential retreat. These retreats are proactive in that we use the time to plan our actions and the months ahead and reflect as a group. Throughout the residentials we also take part in creative activities that help us to think together more deeply about the issues surrounding poverty, and our actions towards eradicating it. All in all, these residentials are incredibly valuable, deeply rewarding, and a lot of fun!

Our most recent APLE residential was no different, when ATD Fourth World UK had the privilege and joy of welcoming the APLE Collective to Frimhurst Family House in Surrey for a retreat from 21- 23 June. We also connected over Zoom with a few of our members who were unable to attend in person.

Highlighting special people

The month of June was “APLE Month”, a time where we highlight and celebrate all the fantastic organizations, charities, and individuals who use their voices to campaign, and have lived experiences at the heart of what they do. As a result, many of our activities over the course of the three days involved reflecting on the previous three weeks of our campaign, and preparing for the final week of actions.

We also spent time developing ideas and exploring issues for the lead up to the 17th of October, which is the UN’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year’s theme of the day is “Dignity for all in practice”, so together we examined and shared our thoughts on what dignity means for us and those in poverty. With the help of some Lego, foam stickers, pipe cleaners, and feathers, we also collaborated to make abstract sculptures that examined themes of poverty, injustice, and hope, the likes of which I’m certain ought to be featured in the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art).

Slogan badges

A 2023 APLE residential would also not be complete without a deep dive into the urgent issues surrounding the digital divide. The fruitful and discerning conversations we shared culminated in a variety of creative results, including punchy and poignant postcards and slogan badges — although figuring out how to use the button press took almost as much time as the residential itself…

And as if the knowledge and experiences shared by all those who attended the residential were not enough of a reward, we also indulged in ice creams in the hot(ish) summer sun and a delicious curry at a nearby restaurant. The conversations that took place around our 15? person restaurant table almost rivaled those held during the working hours of the three days spent in Frimhurst House’s warm and welcoming meeting room, and I for one left the residential incredibly grateful to have been allowed the privilege of spending a Wednesday to Friday surrounded by such inspiring and compassionate individuals.