‘Rate of poverty in a rich city like Leeds is a scandal’

Photo:  John Stillwell/PA Wire
Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire
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A ‘Humanifesto’ will be launched in Leeds later this week to try and tackle the “scandal” of poverty in the city, as well as to challenge stereotypes and motivate people to play their part in eradicating it.

Over the last 18 months, people who experience poverty in Leeds have been sharing their experiences with city leaders as part of the Leeds Poverty Truth Commission project.

It follows various studies which have shown that despite having a thriving business community, Leeds is a city of inequalities with a growing gap between rich and poor.

For example, those living in Middleton have a life expectation of 10 years less than those living in Wetherby.

The Leeds project completed its first commission in 2015 and has recently completed its second commission, which included an audience with the Pope at the Vatican in Rome.

On Friday at Leeds City Museum, the Leeds Poverty Truth Commissioners will share their stories through a mixed-media a presentation including film, performance, presentation, props, sound, poetry and conversation.

The event will be co-hosted by Jamie Jones-Buchanan from Leeds Rhinos.

Among the commissioners is Mary Brennan, who has been involved in the project from the beginning. She said: “Being a commissioner has helped me understand more about the many different challenges of poverty. It has challenged my assumptions. I’ve built good relationships with people who have the power to influence the wider city and know that together we can make a difference.”

Mark Goldstone, of the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, who has also been involved in the project, added: “This project has opened my eyes to how I view poverty, providing me with a genuine insight into what people actually want and need.

“It is a scandal that a wealthy city like Leeds has so many inhabitants who experience poverty.

“But we can all play a part in reducing its dehumanising effects. We invite all residents and workers in Leeds to join us in creating a fairer, stronger and happier society.”

Leeds Poverty Truth Commission is funded through Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Big Lottery.

The event is free to attend and tickets are available from Eventbrite via www.eventbrite.com/e/leeds-poverty-truth-commission-closing-event-tickets-41045305614.

Visit: www.leedspovertytruth.org.uk or follow @PTCLeeds and #povertytruth for updates from the event from midday on Friday.