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Hope story 1: tenacity and change in Salford

Don't try to 'give a voice' - listen to the voices that have been drowned out

Every month, our Dignity, Agency, Power series tells of inspiring people and groups who are tackling poverty in the UK.

Some stories are of people taking action right now, and others look at great pieces of work in the recent past. All of them, we hope, might bring renewed hope, ideas and confidence for all of us in the movement to end UK poverty.

The stories run alongside the photos in the 2022 Dignity, Agency, Power photo calendar.  This is the January story: 

Jayne Gosnall and Shaun Kelly

Meet Jayne & Shaun in Salford

Jayne and Shaun are two tenacious and inspirational activists.

They have taken part in many community initiatives to help tackle the root causes of poverty, locally and nationally, and have spoken up about the way people in poverty are represented, particularly in the media.

Over to Jayne:

“One of the things that happens with people in poverty is that their confidence and self-esteem are affected so it’s really important that people are encouraged to use their voice, even if they do not feel they have got one.

I get annoyed when organisations say they are ‘empowering’ people, because that says ‘they’ have power and ‘we’ do not. I like when organisations like Church Action on Poverty talk about the person’s own agency, and through agency comes dignity.

Jayne Gosnall

Real voices & real experience really matter

“Charities and organisations shouldn’t say “we give people a voice”. People have a voice, but often nobody listens. I like when organisations and people acknowledge the voices that are already there, and use their abilities to find and amplify voices that are already there. 

“That’s what Church Action on Poverty does. I have enjoyed my whole time working alongside them, destigmatising issues and finding real voices with real experience. That is what really matters.

Shaun Kelly and Jayne Gosnall

A new outlook, thanks to Poverty Truth

“I am very passionate about Self Reliant Groups. Shaun and I have both been involved in that movement, and have seen how wonderful they are for people, forging community and creativity and independence. I’ve also enjoyed the media guide projects we’ve worked on, to improve how poverty is covered in the media, and the food research work, and also the creative work during the pandemic, like the Same Boat poetry anthology. 

“I have enjoyed everything… but if I had to pick one stand-out thing, it would have to be the Salford Poverty Truth Commission. It changed the way I thought about myself and the issues. I realised that it is important to use the voice you have and use it un-self-consciously, because hearing people’s real stories matters. The only thing that happens if you don’t share, is that other people remain unaware.

Shaun Kelly and Jayne Gosnall

“All my life, I had been self-conscious about speaking publicly or in groups. But then, coming out of the Poverty Truth Commission, I was sometimes asked to speak on a stage or to strangers and to people who had more power than me in society.

“Instead of feeling nervous, it felt very much like that my role was to communicate the truth, and I wanted to do that well. I cared not about how people saw me, but about the stories being heard. The Poverty Truth experience ended the idea of “them and us” for me. It brought home the human-ness of everyone.

“For the photos in the calendar, Shaun and I chose to be pictured at Salford Museum and Art Gallery. It’s a place that tries really hard to keep the community involved, and which hasn’t changed or been destroyed over the years by the growth of harsh capitalism.”

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