Grassroots Voices have their say
A ground-breaking project which has given Wolverhampton people a stake in shaping the services that affect them has reported back on its achievements.
The Grassroots Voices, City Shapers project is one of six Poverty Truth Commissions across the country which has brought those with an experience of living in poverty together with influential civic leaders to contribute to the future health of Wolverhampton.
An initial meeting was was convened by Bishop Clive in March 2016, with the project then being led by Transforming Communities Together, Lichfield Diocese’s joint venture with the Church Urban Fund.
It saw eight Grassroots Voices, who have lived experiences of poverty, meet regularly and form relationships with 18 business and civic leaders – known as City Shapers.
Together they identified and explored three priority themes: mental health, support networks and housing (see videos below).
Small groups looked at practical changes that could be made in each area – the combination of the personal testimony of Grassroots Voices and the City Shaper’s reach within these areas making a powerful impact. This, for example, led to a direct change in practice at Job Centres following conversations with staff there.
Rachel, one of the Grassroots Voice, said: “I’ve learned how to build relationships. The rest of the world is leaving out relationships and going straight to tasks, but building relationships gets the very best out of everyone.”
Helen, a City Shaper, added: “How you interact with people is crucial. For me its people not process. We tend to start with how we can effectively deal with the issue and not the people. If we put people at the heart of it, we get better outcomes.”
Bishop Clive said: “I have been privileged and delighted to be part of the Wolverhampton Poverty Truth process through to the commission’s report. May its outcomes further the transformation of our City.”
Download the full report from www.wolvespovertytruth.org
Photos copyright Komlaish Achall