The realities of living on a low income in Leeds were laid bare at an event aiming to improve understanding and challenge stereotypes.
Participants in the second Leeds Poverty Truth Commission gathered today to reveal its Humanifesto, stating that “poverty dehumanises”.
The audience at Leeds City Museum heard from those who have experienced poverty first-hand. These “testifying commissioners” – who have worked with business and civic leaders over 18 months – told of how poverty does not simply mean a lack of money but is also about having fewer opportunities than most and facing prejudice.
Presenting alongside Leeds Rhinos player Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Christine Isaacs, of the Lingfield estate, said: “It’s about your background and education and where you come from and what you identify as.
“It’s also about feeling guilty and having shame and feeling afraid of things. If you have got these things on a daily basis, it can be quite hard to function.”
The commission focused on three key themes – communication, barriers and community – and how to overcome them.
Talking about barriers people face, Cross Green resident Mary Brennan, 66, used the example of poor transport – particularly late buses affecting people’s ability to get to work and home on time – causing stress despite people having paid for tickets.
Jaimes Lewis Moran, 24, said: “There is a ‘here be monsters’ mentality about council estates and people on benefits, but actually they are just as hard working at trying to find their place in society.”
The Humanifesto calls on businesses, policy-makers, charities and residents to work with the commission’s findings.