2nd July 2012

On 2nd July, the Giving Poverty a Voice project joined the Parents Forum at the 1st Place Children’s Centre in Burgess Park. The aim was to present the project to parents around Southwark and to understand what issues are rising out of the local community.

Patricia began by introducing ATD Fourth World to other parents of the group and introduced Sarah, who gave an overview of the aims and ideas of the project.

We all exchanged names and got a feel for why everyone was at the forum. 1st Place offers a creche whilst families can take courses, get to know other parents or simply just get out of the house for an afternoon.

“I used to feel very isolated with no-one to turn to. When I found the children’s centre we all learned together and offered information and advice to others.”

The group began to talk about issues that are affecting them or people they know. Lots of people felt there was a lack of information available to parents, especially when they have their first child. Suggestions were made in how these barriers could be overcome.

We then began to talk about flexible working hours for parents and how it was possible (or impossible) for mother’s to go back to work whilst they had children at home or at school until 3pm everyday.

“A lot of people want to work but can’t commit to full-time.”

One parent said your self esteem and confidence is really affected when you haven’t been working for a few years. The group all suggested that being a parent loads you with skills that aren’t always identified.

“You have lots of management skills, lots of planning, lots of budgeting skills.”

 

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18th June 2012

On 18th June, we held our first meeting as part of the project at Addington Square.

Firstly, Patricia welcomed everyone to the meeting.

Then Moraene burst in, very angry about the buses. She ranted and raved for a bit, while everyone wondered what was going on. Then she invited everyone to go to the Anger Wall and write down all the things that made them angry. Here are a few of the things people had on their chests:

“Housing. Society excluding the poor. Teeangers (rude ones).”

“No choices. No chances for young people.”

“Sometimes I get angry with myself.”

“Cuts in the services that leave people without help or advice.”

“Jobcentre.”

  • “When I am going to something and someone calls me.”

“Always those with money/power having a louder voice.”

“No communication between doctors.”

“The word ‘troubled’ families really bothers me.”

“EMA cuts – no incentive for young people.”

“Politicians who blame the poor for poverty while making the rich richer.”

“Politicians who blame the poor for poverty while making the rich richer.”

“Blaming people’s problems on them.”

“People on the end of a phone who don’t care.”

“Meetings that start late.”

“Aggressive teens. Society? Parenting?”

“The ‘post code saga’. ‘My area your area’. Makes me sick.”

“Disability Living Allowance. You can’t do stuff but you’re not entitled to it because you can do it but takes you hours to do it.”

“Aggressive language.”

Following this, Melissa and James gave a brief presentation of the project. It is about supporting people to have their say on issues that affect them, especially when they don’t feel they are being listened to. They gave the example of people living in a community who are involved with different people and institutions around them, but who maybe don’t know how to speak out about issues or problems.

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Seamus told us about when he was a School Governor which gave him the opportunity to have his say on issues at his son’s school. We then went into small groups to discuss examples of times we could speak out and then times when we weren’t listened to.

Before lunch we joined back into a larger group and talked about what we had discussed in groups. Dee gave us an example of a time when she had been the voice of people who had been affected by the fire in Sceaux Gardens. These are other things we talked about.

ImageIssues

  • Relationship with council
  • Housing
  • Parenting
  • Homelessness
  • Crime
  • Young people
  • Lack of choice
  • The Internet

Barriers to speaking out

  • Access to information
  • Not being taken seriously
  • Poor communication
  • No-one taking you seriously
  • Language/jargon
  • Frustration
  • Childcare

Kathy then talked about volunteering with a Welfare Rights Organisation which gave her the opportunity to have a voice. We explained that over the summer we would talk with other groups so that they can join us for our launch meeting in September.

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