Agenda item

Update from the Poverty Truth Commission

Representatives from the Commission to provide an update on the development and progress of the Poverty Truth Commission for the BCP area.





The Board received a presentation from Emily Bradbury and Angela Fendley on the set up of the Poverty Truth Commissions in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. The aim of the presentation was to explain the “why, what and how” in respect of the Commission and how it intersected with the Board’s work.


Emily Bradbury explained that back in 2020 a group working in different settings was considering the injustice of poverty and in particular hearing first-hand from those suffering in poverty. She highlighted that the status quo just was not good enough and therefore action needed to be taken.  This Group had heard about Poverty Truth Commissions operating elsewhere in the country and asked if that would be a helpful approach to bring to the BCP area.  As a result, early in 2021 meetings were set up with a broad range of local leaders and grassroots representatives to explain what a poverty truth commission was and asking the question was now the time to bring such a commission to the conurbation. Emily reported that there was an overwhelming and resounding yes.


A short video explaining how Poverty Truth Commissions operated, was shown. It explained that a commission acknowledged that there were two types of experts, professionals and those who were living on a daily basis with the struggle against poverty. The question was what could happen if we could find ways to bring both of these types of experts into the same room in a way that genuinely enabled both parties to contribute to finding solutions. It began with the community commissioners defining the issues that they want to tackle, and the civic and business commissioners would be identified namely local leaders who hold power, authority and decision-making capacity in the relevant areas.  The Leaders were then invited into the community commissioners’ space to create a safe space and the meetings would be facilitated to ensure that everyone was comfortable.  Emily emphasised that the Poverty Truth Commission works out of relationships and once relationship building has happened it was a matter of bringing both experts together to co-produce the solutions.


Angela Fendley advised the Board of the development of the team, their roles and outlined the timeline for the development of the commission which would run for 2 years over 4 phases.  She explained that the Commission aligns with the ABCD approach and co-design with communities.  The Board was asked to recommend potential community commissioners and outlined the role of the civic/business commissioners.  Emily touched on her work in recruiting community commissioners and how moving the process had been when hearing the experiences and that the Commission was trying to bridge the gap.


Councillor Kelly reported that she was working with Emily and Angela on the process and welcomed the funding support from the Director of Public Health.  She emphasised the importance of the Commission as it aligns to the strength-based aspirations, and we want to listen to people and ensure that people listen to each other so that we can unlock solutions and get things right and understand what was happening in our communities.  Councillor Kelly reported that the Vibrant Communities Partnership had just started and could be part of the process .


The Director of Public Health indicated that he was struck by the comment that it was important to slow people down and asked from the experiences of past Commissions how effective they have been in attracting the right leaders to devote the time and space to the Commission.  Emily in response acknowledged that this was one of the big challenges. However, experiences from other Commissions demonstrated that when they were run for the second or third time the level of commitment to be involved increased. 


Steve Place was interested in the comment about the Vibrant Communities Partnership Board and asked if there was an opportunity for that Board to be a regular open means of communication for findings from the Truth Commission for submission to the Health and Wellbeing Board.  Councillor Kelly supported that suggestion.  The Chair highlighted that there should not be assumptions that professionals were not struggling and that it was a key issue to bear in mind.    


Rachel Gravett left the meeting 4.00 pm