Talking about poverty in the UK – what works?

jrf_frame_imageA 10-step guide to communicating more effectively – and changing public attitudes to  UK poverty. This is a guest blog by Nicky Hawkins from the Frameworks Institute.

1. We often think stats speak for themselves – that numbers like this make people care

Poverty statistics

2. But facts alone don’t change how people think

3. We need to understand how people think about poverty and why

Why is it when poverty campaigners say this…
“Poverty in the UK is a major problem and urgently needs to be addressed.”
… people think and say this?

Beliefs about poverty in the UK

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToUDOcHBhEk?wmode=opaque&enablejsapi=1&modestbranding=1&playerapiid=media-youtube-toudochbhek&rel=0&showinfo=0&color=white&autohide=1]
What’s going on when people react to the idea of poverty in the UK like this? How can we understand these ‘lost in translation’ moments?

4. The way we all think is shaped by our beliefs and assumptions

We rely on these to make sense of stories and data. To communicate effectively, we need to understand and navigate these different – and powerful – patterns of thinking.

Poverty is a thing of the past.

(It only exists somewhere else.)

People make their own lot in life.

(It’s up to them to try harder.)

The system is rigged so nothing will ever change.

(We are all at the mercy of elites who manipulate the system.)

5. But these aren’t the only ways that people can think about poverty

People have other ways of seeing the issue.

Other ways of thinking about poverty

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbfqCkzPGAE?wmode=opaque&enablejsapi=1&modestbranding=1&playerapiid=media-youtube-nbfqckzpgae&rel=0&showinfo=0&color=white&autohide=1]

6. We can tap into these beliefs to trigger a different way of thinking

We can trigger a different way of thinking about poverty and increase support for better policies by talking about the issues in a way that reminds people of these beliefs and taps into them.

We believe in compassion and protecting others from harm.

Shared moral values can build public will to solve poverty.

It is simply not right that we live in a society where so many are locked in poverty.

There’s a shared responsibility to get behind change.

We need to redesign the way our economy works to free people from the grip of poverty.

The design of the economy locks people in poverty – but can be redesigned.

7. Talking about poverty in these ways is powerful


8. We can use these ideas to change the story we tell

This is how we build a better understanding of poverty and build support for action.
Media headlines that help people understand poverty

9. We need to change the story people hear

We need to work together to change the story people hear, so they can think in a new way about poverty.
Newspaper headlines that reinforce poverty stereotypes

10. Our society’s shared values can help build support to solve UK poverty

In the UK we believe in compassion, justice and shared responsibility. We can and will solve poverty.

This post originally appeared on the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s blog.
Find out more in this report by the FrameWorks Institute, or read our summary.

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