From poverty to security: visualising solutions that make a difference
The Dole Animators are a group of individuals with experiences of the benefits system based in Leeds. In 2013, they worked with a researcher – Dr Ruth Patrick – to make a film about the impact welfare reform was having on their lives. To follow up on this work, in 2016-17 they have been working on a new project: exploring solutions to the problems of poverty and insecurity that so many in Britain face. Together with Ruth and a graphic designer, Dan Farley, the Dole Animators have developed visual illustrations of the solutions they feel could make a real difference (more info at https://poverty2security.wordpress.com ). In this blogpost, two members of Dole Animators – Margaret and Sue – reflect on the project.
In Britain today, poverty is growing and sadly affecting children and young people who are the leaders of tomorrow. Poverty is destroying young lives. The rise in poverty is a black mark against our political leaders who have the power to reduce poverty levels within the UK. Something needs to change.
As a group, we came up with five solutions that we believe would make a real difference in reducing poverty in the UK. These include action to make the benefits system more empathetic and effective, improving the availability of childcare, decent housing and creating a right to decent work (and not just any work). These solutions have come from people who have experienced and often are still experiencing the (so often negative) effects that welfare reform can have.
The solutions we came up with are what can be achieved if we all pull together and actively want to make change work. A start would be for policy ‘experts’ to really engage with those at grassroots level who have direct experiences of poverty.
Looking forward, we hope that our solutions are taken into consideration. It would be good if those in power would make a pledge to start working on creating change – none of the solutions we envisage are rocket science. They just need some different thinking and a willingness to want to affect change.
At the moment, this does not feel very likely which is a big shame. Unfortunately, unless we can convince those in power that these changes are not only necessary but essential for the good of society as a whole it will be difficult to make any change happen. This feels like a real challenge, but we are up for it!
Margaret Mbaikaize & Sue Watson, members of Dole Animators @doleanimators