Conference Reflection from a Member: Listening to Voices of Experience

LDCF Exec Member, Mia Hadfield-Spoor, reflects on Vince Cable's conference speech and her experience of the reality of his words for people she meets in her work with the Trussell Trust. 


Photo credit: The Trussell Trust

In his Leader’s speech, Vince Cable referred to the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the chilling reality that people who have less financial capital or status are listened to less.

Many Christian charities and organisations are working hard to encourage and ensure the voices of people experiencing poverty are heard. The Trussell Trust is a charity that combines practical interventions to alleviate hunger immediately alongside advocacy work to address the underlying causes of UK hunger and poverty.

This summer, the single biggest nationwide study on foodbank use to date provided unparalleled new detail about both the circumstances of people referred to foodbanks and some of the key drivers of foodbank use. At the launch of the report in parliament the findings were brought to life by Maria who shared her experience of being helped by a foodbank following problems changing from ESA to Universal Credit, which left Maria with no income and suffering from mental ill-health.

The research identified that people referred to foodbanks faced multiple forms of destitution. 78% of households were classified as severely food insecure over the past year. The average income of people surveyed was £319 and 16% said they had had no income in the past month. 50% households included someone with a disability and 1/3 of households suffered from mental health conditions.

Strikingly, when comparing the profile of people using foodbanks to that of the wider low-income population, people over-represented among food bank users are people with disabilities, lone parents with children, and single male households.

Voices of experience, such as the people who took part in this research, need to be listened to deliver effective, evidence-led policy such as the Government’s commitment to halving the disability employment gap, which is something the Department will be reporting on this autumn.

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