stigma stories

August 5, 2014

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,, 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.

Listening to the panel discussion at the NICE event

The project has been a huge success. As well as receiving coverage in the Independent newspaper, there were also articles in Salford Online, the Salford Star, the Big Issue, and the Daily Mirror.

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.