This week in our gathering on the margins we were talking about the media, and the issues around reporting people’s stories fairly and accurately.

We are having these gatherings every Tuesday at 2 pm. Join us on Zoom to connect with people across the country to hear each other’s stories, discuss issues that we are facing and share advice.

We are having these gatherings every Tuesday at 2 pm. Join us on Zoom to connect with people across the country to hear each other’s stories, discuss issues that we are facing and share advice.

Matt Sowerby, our poet in digital residence started us off by sharing a poem he had written inspired by a conversation with Penny about life on the Byker estate. Matt observed that often in the media people living in poverty are often either demonised as ‘benefit scroungers’ or made into unrealistically angelic victims with no agency for themselves, and both of these portrayals strip them of their humanity. In his poem he tries to bring a more balanced perspective in what is happening in the Byker community.

After a short ice-breaker session in which we discussed stories we had seen recently in the media that had been uplifting, Gavin, our media coordinator, talked about his role in connecting journalists with people who want to share their stories.

There was then the opportunity for people to share issues they would like to see picked up by the media and talk about experience they have had working with the media themselves, or other issues connected with sharing people’s stories. We had a wide range of stories, but a recurring theme was the issue of not feeding into a narrative that just simplistically portrays people as heroes or victims, and does not explore what Nick Waterfield described the ‘middle stories’, that actually reflect real life.

Another issue people said that they were facing when trying to get people’s stories into the media is people’s reluctance to share these stories, whether because they do not feel their story is worthy or because life gets in the way so they don’t have the opportunity to tell it. Both Tish from ATD and Ben spoke about how it is better if people have ownership of the way their stories are told.

After this we broke off into smaller breakout rooms. For those who had specific stories that they wanted to share with a journalist this was an opportunity to speak directly with Maryam from the Mirror. Everyone else had the opportunity to discuss in more detail in smaller groups experiences we have had working with the media on issues around poverty.

After the breakout session Ben talked about the importance of getting the right balance between telling personal stories and showing the bigger picture. Gavin spoke about the power of cumulative story-telling, having multiple share their individual stories, to build a larger story with greater impact. An example of effective cumulative story-telling is the work that Tia has contributed to with the Food Foundation, which can be found here.

Next week we will be exploring creative responses to Covid-19, and we will be joined by poet Matt Sowerby, blogger and spoken word performer Ellis Howard, filmmaker Broden Salmon, musician Clare Pettinger and others. This one is not to be missed, so do join us on Tuesday at 2 pm.

New wine, new wineskins: theological reflection on ‘building back better’

Gathering on the Margins – 2 June

Reflecting together, 28 May: Whom are we serving in our services?

You can’t eat the view

Reflecting together, 21 May: inhabiting the public realm in the midst of lockdown

Book review: Bread of Life in Broken Britain

1 city, 8 tales: sudden poverty & an outpouring of goodwill

Be in my Bubble

Gathering on the Margins – 16 June

We’re making a short film as part of Church Action on Poverty’s Food Power programme’s creative responses to COVID-19. We're asking the question ‘Are we all in the same boat?' and we want your contributions.

You can get involved by:

  • Sending us a short audio clip on your reflections to the question ‘Are we all in the same boat?’
  • Send us five photos or a short video responding to the question ‘Are we all in the same boat?’ Some ideas might be:
    • A meal, something you’ve eaten or haven’t eaten
    • A time you’ve felt connected or resilient
    • A time you’ve felt angry, anxious or sad
    • Something you’ve repeated
    • Something you miss
  • Send an email or call us by phone to share your experience of life during lockdown and/or reflections on ‘Are we all in the same boat?’
Food Power Empowerment Programme Officer

1 city, 8 tales: sudden poverty & an outpouring of goodwill

Be in my Bubble

Gathering on the Margins – 16 June

1 city, 8 tales: sudden poverty & an outpouring of goodwill

Be in my Bubble

Gathering on the Margins – 16 June

These reflections on what it means to be a church on the margins were shared to open our weekly online discussions.

Being a Church on the Margins in a time of Coronavirus (2 April 2020)

Carmel Murphy Elliott, Urban Life, Manchester (with an introduction to the series from Niall Cooper)

Suffering and Solidarity (9 April, Maundy Thursday)

Deirdre Brower Latz, Nazarene Theological College, Manchester

Prophetic Imagination (16 April 2020)

Urzula Glienecke, Greyfriars, Edinburgh

Who is my neighbour? The walkable parish (23 April 2020)

Chris Lawrence, InnerCHANGE, East Harlem, New York City

Where are the margins? (30 April 2020)

Stef Benstead, Manchester

You Can’t Eat the View

How a few photos from 2008 still undermine attempts to tackle UK poverty

New wine, new wineskins part 3: What needs to change?

Gathering on the Margins, 19 May: Building back better?

New wine, new wineskins part 2: What does our faith tell us?

Reflecting together, 14 May: Power and powerlessness

New wine, new wineskins part 1: Journeying into a new world

New wine, new wineskins: introduction

Gathering on the Margins – 12 May

Church on the Margins: resilience

1 city, 8 tales: sudden poverty & an outpouring of goodwill

Be in my Bubble

Gathering on the Margins – 16 June

Our Empowerment Programme Officer Ben Pearson wrote this poem as part of one of our weekly creative workshops.

Yellow sticker you label me,
Poor.
Late night,
Hungry.
I search aisles,
For the battered, bruised, left behind.
Trolleys overflowing,
They look at me.
Battered, bruised, left behind,
They label me.


During the pandemic, Matt Sowerby is Church Action on Poverty’s poet in digital residence. He is running weekly online workshops to help our partners and supporters respond creatively to the virus and lockdown.

Food Power Empowerment Programme Officer

New wine, new wineskins: theological reflection on ‘building back better’

Gathering on the Margins – 2 June

Reflecting together, 28 May: Whom are we serving in our services?

You can’t eat the view

Reflecting together, 21 May: inhabiting the public realm in the midst of lockdown

Book review: Bread of Life in Broken Britain

1 city, 8 tales: sudden poverty & an outpouring of goodwill

Be in my Bubble

Gathering on the Margins – 16 June

We are more reliant than ever on digital connection during the lockdown, but for many people it is very difficult to get the digital access they need to stay connected. At this week’s Gathering on the Margins we looked at the issue of digital exclusion.

We are having these gatherings every Tuesday at 2 pm. Join us on Zoom to connect with people across the country to hear each other’s stories, discuss issues that we are facing and share advice.

Before we got into the main topic of digital exclusion, Matt Sowerby, our poet in residence, shared a very moving poem he had written in conjunction with Stef Benstead drawing from the conversations we had had in the gathering a couple of weeks ago when we talked about how the crisis is affecting the lives of disabled people.

ATD Fourth World has been working with people who are struggling with digital access. Tish Mason gave us examples of different ways in which people are digitally excluded. In some cases people do not have access to the technology itself – phones, laptops, tablets, etc., that would allow them to be digitally connected. Tish told us about a woman who needed to buy a phone in order to access the internet, but would have had to pay for it online, which she couldn’t do because she didn’t have a phone.

But even if even if you do have the physical bit of technology, there is still the issue of actually being able to access the internet. Some schools are sending tablets to their students to allow them to do school work, but these useless without Wi-Fi. Tish told us that many people are using their neighbours Wi-Fi, but this may leave them with an obligation that perhaps they would prefer not to have.

Some people are able to connect to the internet through mobile data, which is of course expensive and reliant on good signal. Patricia Bailey, who was only able to join us via audio rather than video, told us about the trouble she has had connecting to Zoom calls because the signal where she lives is not strong enough.

People who want to tell their stories and share their experiences of digital exclusion are really struggling because most of the opportunities to do that are now online. Digital exclusion is having a major impact on the lives of people in poverty at the moment, but it is even harder for them to raise their voices about it. Furthermore, the issue seems so insurmountable that some organisations are reluctant to even address it. As Tish points out people who have not had access to the internet before now urgently needs it, it is not a luxury in this situation.

Katy from the APLE Collective gave us more examples of how digital exclusion is affecting people’s lives. Getting support from neighbours, job searches, accessing Universal Credit, receiving important public health messages, and maintaining family connections in difficult circumstances are all so much harder without digital access.

The APLE Collective are sharing people’s experiences of digital exclusion through a series of blogs, which you can read here. If you would like to contribute to this please contact Katy at contact@aplecollective.com  The Collective have also sent a letter to Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and are following this up with a letter to each metro mayor and trying to raise this issue in the media as much as possible.

We were very lucky in this session that we could be joined by Tia, a young person from Lancashire who has been experiencing digital exclusion and has only just got a laptop allowing her to join these calls. She shared how digital exclusion has been affecting the lives of her friends and family. She told us how she needed internet access to receive free school meal vouchers by email, and then a printer to print them off – something she is luckily able to do, but not all of her friends are. Home-schooling without a computer is almost impossible, and Tia told us how her younger sister has not been able to do her schoolwork for nearly a month. Digital exclusion is not a new issue for Tia and her friends. She told us about the difficulties they had completing assignments at home when she was in college, but lockdown has only made the need for digital access more urgent.

Next week (Tuesday 5th May, 2 pm), we will be looking at the media and reporting stories from the margins. We will be joined by a journalist from the Mirror and there will be opportunity to discuss important issues you would like to see reported on more.

New wine, new wineskins: theological reflection on ‘building back better’

Gathering on the Margins – 2 June

Reflecting together, 28 May: Whom are we serving in our services?

You can’t eat the view

Reflecting together, 21 May: inhabiting the public realm in the midst of lockdown

Book review: Bread of Life in Broken Britain

1 city, 8 tales: sudden poverty & an outpouring of goodwill

Be in my Bubble

Gathering on the Margins – 16 June