Hidden scandal, untold stories: poverty in the north east

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Our joint investigation uses new statistics and true experts’ accounts 

Church Action on Poverty has this week teamed up with one of England’s biggest regional newspapers, to help tell the truth about poverty.

We worked with the editorial team at The Northern Echo, to illustrate the root causes of poverty, the human impact, the cuts to the welfare safety net, and also the pioneering approaches to ending poverty at a local level.

We believe these stories should be heard, so please help us ensure they get the audience they deserve. You can read the various articles at the links below:

We spent several months visiting people and groups around the North East, building trust and listening to the issues and stories they felt were too often overlooked. We also worked with the Northern Echo to research some of the political situation, using the Freedom of Information Act. In doing so, we discovered wide variations in council practices around the region, meaning that people living just a few miles apart could have access to vastly different levels of crisis support. Our work was supported by statistics from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, broken down to local levels within the North East.

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On Wednesday and Thursday, poverty and our work were literally front page news, meaning tens of thousands of people across the North East will have gained a better understanding of poverty.

We are very grateful to all the people who shared their stories for this project.

The interviews were carried out by Gavin Aitchison, our poverty media unit coordinator, who was previously a newspaper journalist in York.

He said: “Understandably, people are sometimes reluctant to talk about their own poverty, and building trust takes time.

“Cuts to local media mean many editors and news editors, who naturally want to explore big issues in depth, don’t have the resources they once did to do so. By working together, we and the Northern Echo were able to tell stories that ought to be told, and put them in context through statistical evidence and our own research.”

In 2018, we hope to carry out similar joint pieces of work with other media outlets interested in truly understanding and highlighting the changing nature of poverty in their area. If you are a journalist, and are interested in discussing this, please email gavin@church-poverty.org.uk

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