Yesterday I had the pleasure to attend one of the most inspiring events that I have been to in a long while. The Results Factory for Disrupting Poverty provides an opportunity for ‘ordinary folk who care’ (in the words of organiser, Mike Chitty), to generate ideas and execute projects that will disrupt poverty and make a positive difference in Leeds. Born and bred in Leeds, I am proud of my city, with its heritage and all its new, shiny buildings, but it breaks my heart to know that there are thousands of people that are not sharing in the success.
Over forty people attended the event, which Mike describes as a ‘mosh pit of creativity’. We were from all walks of life, from individuals and independent consultants, to Citizens Advice Bureau staff, academics, campaigners, community groups and local authority representatives. Although we came from completely diverse backgrounds, we all had the shared goal of helping people within our communities and the energy levels were high. At the session, delegates are encouraged to put forward ideas, which are then discussed democratically in working groups with whoever has an interest or can help make it happen. Leeds aspires to be the Best City in the UK, but 23% of its children live in poverty and this rises to over 50% in some communities. It really hit home when we heard that the number of children living in poverty in Leeds would fill Elland Road stadium.
When we consider that Leeds is an ‘average’ performer in the UK with regard to child poverty, the need to take action is compelling. As a result, one of the initiatives that came out of a previous Results Factory event was the supply of free meals during the summer holidays to children from families living below or just above the poverty line. Due to the fabulous commitment and technical skills of one of the group, a data whizz who takes publicly available statistics and presents them in a visually impactful manner, we are able to zoom in online right down to street level to see where the worst-hit families are. The Results Factory is a fantastic idea that can be replicated anywhere in the country. In fact, it seems from yesterday’s event that a Dewsbury-based group will meet in the near future. If you have any ideas that you’d like to put forward, please feel free to contact me or Mike Chitty to hear how you can get involved in the movement or search for #dispovleeds on Twitter.
Blog post by Anj Handa