April 10, 2024

Relationships like a slow roast, rather than a microwave meal 

by Claire Brown and Martin Johnstone, Poverty Truth Network

In the Poverty Truth Network, we like to say that our work more resembles a slow roast dinner rather than a microwave meal. Or, to put it another way, some things are so important (maybe even urgent) that you can’t afford to do them quickly. 

Let’s try and give you a picture of what we mean.  

In November 2023, a group of us, from the Poverty Truth Network, the Poverty Truth Community and Carnegie UK got together for 24 hours at a centre on the outskirts of Glasgow. Some of us were meeting for the first time. Others had been friends for a long time. We had come together to try to grapple with what an economy that puts collective wellbeing first might look, sound, feel or even taste like.  

As we sat round a meal table, we began to hear stories of how the example of one person, the resilience of another, and the courage of a third had changed and shaped life for the better over the last fifteen years. And the ripples of change had moved out, influencing other family members, friends, communities, and organisations. Perhaps even wider society.  

A few people reminisced about how, in April 2009, they had stood in Glasgow City Chambers and witnessed the reality of poverty, and how they were resisting the many ways in which they felt dehumanised by it. Of how they had borne witness to another possible society; one in which everyone was valued and had a place.  

In the fifteen years since that Saturday afternoon hundreds, if not thousands, of people have become involved in Poverty Truth Commissions in over thirty different locations across the UK. Although the contexts vary, the core model is the same. It brings people who experience poverty and people who have responsibility to address it together, to create change; and to be changed.   

Back then none of us had ever heard of the term ‘wellbeing economy’; but we were already pointing to it and seeking to live it out.  

Over the last couple of years, Carnegie UK, in partnership with others, has been working out how to create a tool that will enable organisations, including governments, to measure wellbeing.  

One of the things that was striking to those who got together last November was just how much sense that framework seems to make. It talks about models of society that work for everyone; of an economy in which every person can flourish; of living in ways that treat the environment sustainably; and communities in which we all have a say. It echoes the mantra of the Poverty Truth Network – Nothing About Us Without Us Is For Us – a phrase borrowed from other social movements.  

The Poverty Truth Network is excited to be working with our friends in Carnegie UK in this work over the coming years. It feels like a natural partnership and relationship.  

We are also aware the wisdom that is emerging will take time to mature. Much like a slow roast dinner.