Let the lived stories drive the agenda by Graham Brownlee

As our government is preoccupied with Brexit the tightening crisis of poverty continues through the current welfare reforms. This week, Parliament has being debating the roll out of Universal Credit, and one exchange hit the headlines – as Frank Field described his recent experience in persuading a man not to commit suicide and of another family being invited to the end of a funeral meal to share the left overs. In response Heidi Allen was moved to tears in the debate.

Please watch the clip yourself, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/05/tory-mp-cries-heidi-allen-universal-credit-impact-speech-from-frank-field

We know that individuals and families are having to make the hard choices between food and hygiene products, between heating and paying the rent. We know that many people, and groups, of compassion are taking action to alleviate suffering. But this is not enough.

Now is the time to let the lived story drive the agenda. It is clear that welfare reform is causing much pain and there is much to be debated and decided. The worry is that attention is diverted by other news items. What can we do?

Politicians are aware of this issue and may already have taken a view. But that is not the point. Now it is important to maintain pressure.
We can contact our MPs, Councillors, Senior Council Officials draw their attention to the following:

1. Ask them if they seen the clip of the debate between Frank Field and Heidi Allen.
2. Tell them of a lived story from your own community.
3. Ask them what their response is to the two above and what are they doing about it?
4. You could link up with other church and projects locally and invite your MP to meet people experiencing the impact of welfare reforms and to respond to them.

If you are able to make a contact and gain a response, please let us know at JPIT Yorkshire by e-mailing: enquiries@jointpublicissuesyorkshire.org.uk
We can be overwhelmed by the complexities of the welfare system or we can despair that nothing will change – but that is not the issue right now. If lived stories are heard we can change the nature of the debate.