As Maria got up out of her wheelchair and made her way to the microphone to speak, the council chamber fell silent. As she began to read the words prepared earlier, councillors turned around towards her and were transfixed. Beside her were 4 fellow commissioners, there to support Maria, and to present their HuManifesto to a full meeting of Leeds City Council.
Maria spoke of the need to respect those living in poverty, the need to be treated as fellow and equal human beings, from the way services are delivered to the way organisations communicate. She spoke of the need to involve those with lived experience of poverty in the design and running of services on which they depend. And she made an ask of Leeds City Council to involve those with lived experience of poverty in the design of services across council departments.
As she finished there was a standing ovation with councillors from all political hues standing and applauding, and then making a commitment for the Communities and Neighbourhoods department to work with the Poverty Truth Commission to look at the idea of involving people with lived experience of poverty in planning across departments. It could hardly have gone any better.
Following the launch of the Humanifesto in February at the closing of the 2nd Leeds Poverty Truth Commission, this has been one of the key opportunities that the Commissioners have been working towards, and with people making their #PovertyPledges on social media, and a plethora of media coverage surrounding the deputation, it has been quite a week.
Commissioners have all made their pledges for the how they intend to continue to tackle the dehumanising effects of poverty into the future, and we are inviting any other individuals and organisations to make their own #PovertyPledge using this hashtag on social media. We’ll hopefully collect many of these and post them here as a blog soon.