Families in poverty make change happen

12 March 2020

The second West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission (WCPTC) is coming to an end with the closing event highlighting the success and achievements over the last 18 months.  Following the positive impact that the first WCPTC had on a local and national scale, the second WCPTC wanted to continue in its footsteps, focusing on three key themes. 
‘Housing and homelessness’ is one of the key themes.  Through sharing lived experience, the WCPTC want to help prevent homelessness.  In particular, they want to reduce the use of Bed and Breakfast accommodation for homeless families.  
Sharon Wallace, Programme Director at ForHousing, found the WCPTC to have an incredible impact on the way ForHousing delivers its services to tenants. Sharon adds “At ForHousing, our approach has changed. We want to enable successful tenancies. We have a team of people who are listening more, they’re building relationships. 

“We have a wellbeing service and we are talking to people with rent arrears as soon as we see an issue. Our goal is to do everything in our power to keep people in their homes and through working with partners and the Council we want to encourage more housing providers to do the same.”
A resident with lived experience of poverty, now called a Community Inspirer, Tracy, is Co-Chair of the Housing and Homelessness group and has worked closely with Sharon on the key actions and developments.  Tracy said “The West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission has been an amazing experience for me. I have learnt so much about myself and also been able to make a huge impact on housing services to help others.  I have been able to have a voice and share my own experiences to help make change happen.”

Cllr Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cabinet Member for Wellbeing said “All community inspirers should be really proud of the progress they have made, supporting the second West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission.  
“We have listened to residents, including our young residents.  On a national scale, the number of families in poverty continues to increase.  Research shows, in a school classroom of 30, on average nine people are living in poverty.1 The WCPTC has helped to make change and improve services.  We will continue to work with residents, so we can help to tackle poverty and inequality and improve lives for the better.”
Community inspirers, civic and business leaders came together for the closing event to support the success of the second WCPTC. The work from both Poverty Truth Commissions will continue. Tackling poverty in the borough is a key focus in the new Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Plan.  Existing and new community inspirers will play their part, alongside partner agencies, to make positive changes for west Cheshire residents, as well as helping to improve services. 
For general West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission information, visit the Council's website

Cllr Louise Gittins, Tracy - Community Inspirer, Sharon Wallace - ForHousing 

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