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Reform Magazine | December 16, 2017

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A fresh start

A fresh start

Patrick Philpott on leaving prison and joining the Salford Poverty Truth Commission

I left prison with £4.20 and did not receive my first benefits for 16 weeks. I went to a foodbank and a breakfast drop in centre, and there I came across a project involving Church Action on Poverty. That’s when I heard about Salford Poverty Truth Commission, where people who have experienced poverty work with decisionmakers to tackle it.

At the moment there are nine poverty truth commissions running or being set up in the UK, and I am a commissioner on the Salford one. Poverty truth commissions, to me, are the missing link. They are about real people, who can make a difference, and who have the right values. They look at the source of poverty, not just the outcome.

The first meeting I went to was at Salford University and as an ex-offender I just didn’t feel worthy of even being there. But I saw an opportunity to make lifestyle changes, and, by being engaged with a diverse group of good-living people, I knew there was an opportunity to maintain a bit of consistency.

The commission had 15 people who have been in poverty and 15 people who are in what we call public life. To me, it was an absolute privilege to be in a room full of such normal people and good-living people. I was made very welcome and I think I was an addition to the diversity of the group. In a way, it was easy for me because I had nothing else to be doing. The meetings were a highlight for me, a day out…

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the December 2017 / January 2018 edition of  Reform

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