Welcoming Abigail Rhodes to JtoJ
We are delighted to welcome Dr Abigail Rhodes to our JtoJ team as the Development Worker for the Economic (In)Justice project and look forward to working with her from May – September 2020.
Abi is a researcher, teacher and activist with a special interest in the third sector, charity, social movements and campaigning in the field of human rights and social justice. She is a volunteer with Let’s Feed Brum and Sharewear Clothing Scheme, both focused on the impact of poverty in the UK.
We have started to plan our next major project which will focus on class, economic injustice and poverty in the UK.
Economic injustice has always been of concern but is now amplified and magnified by the effect of this coronavirus crisis. It has highlighted the many ways in which people are advantaged and disadvantaged depending on class, ethnicity, housing, income, employment and associated health factors. “Coronavirus has seen an exposure of the underlying health inequalities and an amplification of them.” Professor Sir Michael Marmot author of Health Equity in England, the Marmot Review Ten Years On, February 2020
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With stories of solidarity we will focus on what we can do about economic injustice through activities bringing together examples of struggles for human rights and the arts to encourage action for change.
Emphasise the role played by people collectively which brought and bring change for social and economic justice.
Challenge (often unconscious) bias about class and filters through which we see each other.
Highlight often neglected articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights related to economic and cultural rights. i.e. everyone needs a decent income and home and access to a healthy environment and leisure.
The process is as important as the end product for this project.
We have a working party to develop ideas. Members include trustees, volunteers and partners with experience from working as benefits advisers, Citizens Advice, the Living Wage Foundation, Plan International UK, the charity sector, trade unions and schools. Research began with a Listening Project, consulting people living in poverty or working with those who are, via contacts in our local groups in the North East, Southwark, Nottingham and the Forest of Dean. These are discussions we seek to develop further in other parts of the country including Cumbria and Norfolk where our travelling civil rights exhibition is going and Newham and Birmingham where it has been recently.
We have started to consult relevant academics and organisations whose aims complement ours.
In addition to talking about the impact of poverty in terms of health, housing, stigma, food, clothes and lack of opportunities, access to activities, one finding has been people’s strong sense of isolation and loneliness, the lack of shared spaces to build a sense of belonging and – where such spaces exist – how poverty can make it impossible to make use of them. These experiences are shared in urban and rural areas.
For more information and to become part of the planning, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
With heartfelt thanks to Garden Court Chambers, the Lipman-Miliband Trust, Matrix Causes and the MSN Fund for their generous grants towards this project.
Poverty Injustice – Building Power at the Grassroots!
Wed, 16 October 2019 19:00 – 21:00 BST
During London Challenge Poverty Week in October 2019, we ran a very successful event focused on addressing human rights and attitudes related to economic injustice and the causes and consequences of poverty. 70 people signed up for 50 seats – a sign of the significance and urgency of this issue.
Our speakers were:
Amina Gichinga, an organiser with London Renters Union, who campaign to transform the housing system. The London Renters Union works with youth, community, and migrant groups to amplify their voices.
Co-authors of Until the Sky Turns Silver, Jean Stallings and Diana Skelton highlighted their experience in working with All Together in Dignity (ATD) Fourth World, a human rights anti-poverty organisation tackling inequality and promoting social justice in the UK and internationally.
Luke Aaron, Drama School student at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and outdoor instructor from the Forest of Dean talked about rural poverty and class, drawing on interviews he ran with local residents for JtoJ.
This film of short extracts from the speeches touches on some of the key issues discussed: building community action, exclusion of rural communities, people in poverty speaking for themselves.
Until the Sky Turns Silver introduces Jean Stallings and the novel she co-wrote with Diana Skelton. It was shown at the meeting.
“There are 14 million people in the UK living below the poverty line and half of them are in work. Too often we accept the unacceptable as if there’s nothing we can do. But through learning from people in the past and today who take action for economic justice, we can find ideas and hope.”
Carrie Supple, director, Journey to Justice.
We asked the audience: What will you remember from the event?
“The talk and analysis of rural vs. urban economic and social situation”
“The many different ways and levels and views on how poverty works”
“Impassioned speeches from different speakers”
“The engagement of young people from outside London”
“Poverty is a serious problem& we need legislation in order to deal with it”
“That poverty is an ongoing problem and that legislation is vital”
“Fantastic collection of speakers – all with interesting viewpoints & very engaging:
- Collective action
- Hope & positivity
- Drawing connections between different groups, acknowledging
“Challenging perceptions – Luke’s talk was particularly interesting”
“All the notes I made – brill speakers!”
“How inspired I felt – I love the career I have chosen, yet I know there is so much to do”
“The talk from Amina (London Renters Union) was wonderful and some excellent ideas on community organising”
“Positive images of contributions of people from ATD”
“The statement by ATD about poverty taking away your soul!”
This longer film includes the main part of all three speeches and the Q&A afterwards.
With thanks to everyone involved in making the event such a success.
Looking forward to next steps.