Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Tackling Poverty in Reading

Reading is a great place to live but too many of our citizens are shut out of the relative economic success.  Many of our children in working households are growing up in poverty and disabled residents are being hard hit by the government's benefit cuts while many pensioners aren't getting the support they are entitled to.  That's without even talking about the rocketing use of Reading's local food bank, Readifood.
 
We could just watch this happen but I believe Reading's community is better than that.  At a meeting next week we've a chance for people and organisations from across Reading to discuss how this can be tackled. 
 
I'll be there and I've been told it's got a lot of interest.


Tackling Poverty in Reading

12/11/2013
Reading Borough Council Press Release

TACKLING Poverty in Reading is the theme of the town's Annual Conference this year which takes place at the Town Hall on Tuesday November 19.

Organisations, residents, community groups and charities from across the borough are all being invited to attend the event and play their part in helping to develop a strategy to tackle poverty in Reading.

Welfare reforms, reducing public sector expenditure and the slow economic recovery are all combining to create increasing hardship for many residents, including some of the most vulnerable. The Local Government Association estimates that welfare reforms will see working people whose wages are so low that they have to claim some benefit in order to keep a roof over their head, lose an average of £1,660 per year. In Reading nearly 11,000 working people will be affected. For 7,693 people out of work, the loss of income figure is higher at £1,671 a year. ( * see notes to editors)

Reading's 'Tackling Poverty' event on November 19th runs between 5.30pm to 8.30pm. Chaired by Professor Gavin Brooks, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), University of Reading, the event will begin with an introduction by Reading Borough Council Leader Jo Lovelock. That will be followed by a keynote address from Alison Garnham, CEO, Child Poverty Action Group, key facts and figures from the organisations that work everyday with people in poverty, and testimonies of real-life experiences of poverty in Reading.

The proposed schedule is:

- 6.00pm: Welcome by Reading Borough Council Leader Jo Lovelock

- 6.10pm: Key note address - Alison Garnham, CEO, Child Poverty Action Group

- 6.30pm: What does poverty look like in Reading – Christian Community Action Reading / Citizens Advice Bureau Reading / Reading CIC / Welfare Rights

- 6.45pm: What does poverty feel like in Reading - First hand testimonies (video and short play by 'Spotlight on Diversity')

From 7pm the event will split into a series of workshops, all based around the theme of poverty, which are aimed at discussing, exploring and developing practical actions to deliver a plan to tackle poverty. The workshops will be facilitated by a variety of different groups and organisations and the 10 themes will be:

• Advice on tax credits and benefits
• Affordable Credit
• Support into Work
• Best start in life
• Tackling In work poverty
• Affording Basic Needs
• Disabled People
• Older People
• Tackling poverty in a multi-cultural community
• Health and Wellbeing

Groups or residents who would like to take part in a specific themes workshop are asked to book ahead and register at http://tacklingpoverty.eventbrite.co.uk/. Alternatively people can just turn up on the night and decide which workshops suits them best.

The workshops will then be followed by pledges of action and the outline of a way forward, before finishing at 8pm.

Reading Borough Council Leader Jo Lovelock said:

"Five years on, the economic downturn has shown us that Reading continues to perform well in comparison to other places. We also know very well that there remain a great many people out there in Reading who continue to struggle financially as a consequence of the increased cost of living and the reforms and changes that are being made. Many of the people affected are working long hours and still having to choose between heating and eating; the need for foodbanks in Reading has increased by 400%; 1 in 5 children in Reading are officially living in poverty. The theme of 'Tackling Poverty' is therefore the right one for this year's conference.

"The event will include real life experiences of poverty in Reading. I hope organisations including public services, businesses, schools, voluntary and community organisations, charities or faith organisations, will want to make their own pledges on the night that will go towards helping us to develop a plan for tackling this key issue in Reading.

"The event on November 19th is open to anyone in our community who is concerned about poverty and who has any ideas about how we can help tackle it."

ENDS

Notes for Editors:

• Local media are invited to send reporters / photographers to the Tackling Poverty Conference on Tuesday Nov 19.

• * Figures are sourced from the report: 'Local Government Association, Local Impacts of Welfare Reform: Impact Model, 18th September 2013.'
See link here:
http://www.local.gov.uk/finance/-/journal_content/56/10180/4104978/ARTICLE

Reading Borough Council Press Releases can be found online at http://www.reading.gov.uk/news/pressreleases/




Media Contact: Oscar Mortali
Tel: 0118 937 2301

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Rachel Eden, 
Labour Councillor for Whitley ward, 
Lead Councillor forAdult Social Care, Reading Borough Council

Councillor: http://www.whitleynews.org/
Personal: http://racheleden.blogspot.com/