A special panel of people with lived experience of poverty will be formed to help tackle it in Renfrewshire.
Poverty Alliance and the Paisley-based Star Project will join forces with the council as part of the scheme.
The aim of the initiative is to develop a model of participation which will have a practical impact on local policymaking.
A team of people with lived experience of poverty will help in the development of both policy and practice.
A ‘test of change’ will take place to develop the approach over a six-month period before the process is evaluated to see how this type of participation can inform the council’s work on poverty on an ongoing basis.
The recruitment for the panel is due to take place next month with the first meeting set to be held in December.
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Annabelle Armstrong-Walter, strategic partnerships and inequalities manager, told Wednesday’s Fairer Renfrewshire sub-committee: “It’s really important that the panel themselves are involved in the co-design of what that panel looks like.
“It’s a challenge as a council officer not to try and decide actually how something is going to look before it happens, but I think this is all part of the learning here for us.”
The role of Poverty Alliance will be to provide expert advice around good practice and support effective facilitation, while Star Project will be involved in the recruitment, training and support of panel members with lived experience.
Ms Armstrong-Walter added: “I think this is really critical in terms of this isn’t just about inviting people into a room, giving them a presentation, having a chat and then walking away.
“This is meant to be something which provides significant wider benefits for the people that participate in terms of their ability to influence change, feel agency and really feel that they’re making a difference and also for us to make sure that we are looking after the people that we’re asking to support us appropriately.”
David Reilly, Poverty Alliance communities and networks manager, described the project as a “hugely welcome commitment to participation” from the local authority.
He added: “As you’ve heard, the cost-of-living crisis is immediate… with immediate impacts and impacts that are very long lasting.
“There’s a lot of evidence that interventions from all spheres of government are best targeted when they’re done with communities.”
Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, Star Project worked with around 2,000 people annually.
However, during lockdown, the figure climbed quickly to more than 10,000, with chief executive Sharon McAuley telling councillors: “Our numbers are almost the same again.”
She added: “Our practice is rooted in being person-centred. It is absolutely holistic. It’s trauma-informed, it’s responsive and most importantly it’s universal. You don’t need to tick a box to access support.
“It’s about the person, it’s about the individual. That’s key to our proposal going forward, those relationships.”
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