Our award-winning partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has changed the conversation about poverty in the UK.
What we found
Through extensive research we uncovered common patterns in how people think about poverty. We found a strong tendency to deny poverty’s existence and to blame individuals for the hardship they face.
But by changing the story we told, we unlocked radically different ways of thinking. People could see that the economic system shapes people’s lives. They were more likely to support government action to solve poverty, and they believed change was possible.
Our research showed that we can help people see that poverty exists and understand its impact. We can build support for a robust welfare system. We can inspire widespread belief that change is possible and that poverty can be solved. And we can mobilise action to do so.
What we did
We helped the Joseph Rowntree Foundation put our research recommendations into practice by training high-profile spokespeople, campaigners, content producers and activists with lived experience of poverty. This programme is called Talking about Poverty and has been hugely successful in equipping people who want to speak about poverty with the means to do so effectively.
Alongside this programme, we developed practical toolkits, shaped messaging and materials, and supported organisations who could help build momentum.
This new story of poverty has now been told and retold many times:
- In hundreds of national media features
- In dozens of newspaper headlines
- By powerful messengers like football star Marcus Rashford, Church of England bishops and The Sun newspaper
- By advocates across the sector, starting from the moment the research was launched and continuing now
- By national politicians across the political spectrum
- In compelling creative content like the Picture Britain exhibition, the This Is Poverty film and the documentary A Northern Soul, which was screened on the BBC.
This work also informed the cross-sector Keep the Lifeline campaign – a campaign that brought together a range of charities and advocacy organisations around a single aim: the preservation of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit at a time when people needed it the most. The scale of this campaign, as well as the clarity in the messaging, meant the request was impossible for the government to ignore.
The previously dominant “strivers and scroungers” narrative is quickly being replaced by a story grounded in the reality of poverty, and our shared values of compassion and justice. It’s a story that has shifted public opinion, reduced stigma, and secured policy change.