This blog comes from Civic and Business Commissioner Bill, reflecting on his experiences and insights from the journey of the Commission…
My experience of being a Poverty Truth Commissioner has been far from my expectations when I agreed to participate as a Civic Commissioner a couple of years ago. As we approach the closing event in January 2021, I reflect that it was far more challenging, informative, eye opening, always highly engaging and, at times, quite disturbing.
I’ve met some truly amazing people who have helped open my eyes to the complex web that is poverty that shattered my previous simplistic, ill-informed view of it. Yes, there is some truth in the common sense view that tackling poverty simply requires more money, that the nation’s wealth be distributed more evenly. However, I quickly learnt that the barriers and disadvantage that is a daily reality for many are on so many levels and so deeply embedded in the way our society is structured that money alone will not address it.
For many, this leads poverty to be filed under ‘too difficult’. However, on a journey with my fellow commissioners, I learnt that the more tangled the web of poverty is, the need to pool our collective resources and ingenuity is ever more urgent. It is all of our responsibilities, whoever and wherever we are, to make this central to what we do.
With resolve, good will, humour and good food (always great food) we considered problems together. There were no easy answers and I often found myself frustrated and with a huge sense of powerlessness. However, through deepening understanding and time for reflection, I am sure that real, sustained improvements will follow from the actions of each and every commissioner. The impact of each decision and action, however small, will be made with greater thought and care for the impact on all those it touches. With greater thought and care, small positive differences can add up to larger positive changes and genuinely make the complex web less tangled.
In my own area of influence my efforts will be redoubled to bridge the academic, digital and social divide, remove barriers and raise aspirations so as many people as possible achieve their potential based on their effort and ability rather than their background. Poverty Truth has made me aware that, however well we thought we were doing, there is so, so much more that we could be doing. Now, we WILL be doing those things and I will look to embed them as far and widely as I possibly can.
Thank you to all involved in the third Poverty Truth Commission. I feel privileged to have been part of this and I genuinely hope this marks a beginning and not the end of our collective work.