Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a project to train a group of people, all on benefits, to speak out against the stigma of poverty.
The idea behind the course, commissioned by Church Action on Poverty and Oxfam, was to create a network of spokespeople who could talk about the reality of life lived at the sharp end of welfare reform.
These spokespeople would powerfully challenge the current scrounger/ skiver narrative.
As well as running six workshops with the group, I set up a website, www.stigmastories.com, to tell the stories of individual members.
I organised an event to introduce them to the community, which included a panel debate to discuss some of the issues they raised.
They are being interviewed by BBC Radio Manchester and BBC Radio 5 Live; four documentary companies, including one from Channel 4′s Cutting Edge strand, want to tell the group’s story.
The group are still regularly meeting, and are in the process of becoming a formally recognised organisation.