Liverpool Hope University has made a significant commitment to tackling poverty in the North West with the launch of a new research network.
The Poverty Research and Advocacy Network (PRAN) has been set up to combat poverty and deprivation and brings together academics and representatives from several councils, NGOs and charities who are committed to creating a more equal and empowered society.
This new knowledge-sharing platform will encourage collaborative research on the broader issues of poverty and inequality with the people affected by it. It will also advocate to change the stigmatising language and debate around poverty that does so much to exclude people in the most affected groups from progressing socially and economically.
The network will be led by Dr Natalija Atas and Dr Vicki Dabrowski, who are both lecturers in Liverpool Hope’s School of Social Sciences.
PRAN was launched following a cost of living conference hosted by Liverpool Hope on Wednesday 28 June, which saw 160 people from 87 regional and national institutions, NGOs and charities discuss solutions to poverty across the UK.
Among those in attendance were Councillor Liam Robinson, leader of Liverpool City Council; Claire Donovan, Head of Policy, Research & Campaigns at End Furniture Poverty; and Professor Kate Pickett, who received an OBE for services to societal equality in the 2022 New Year’s Honours list.
In her keynote address, Professor Pickett revealed that 34% of children (900, 000) in the North were living in poverty during the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst Donovan highlighted how hundreds of thousands of people in the North West don’t have access to household items End Furniture Poverty deem essential. This includes:
• 150,000 children who do not currently have their own bed and who instead sleep on hard flooring, sofas, air mattresses, or sharing with other family members.
• 230, 000 people who live without a freezer.
• 110,000 people living without a washing machine.
Such shocking statistics reinforced the need for the launch of the PRAN, with conference delegates in agreement that collective action is needed in order to achieve a more equal society.
The network is set to host its first meeting on Friday 28 July when members will discuss the specific issues they want to initially address and this will be followed by a workshop hosted by Liverpool Hope in September.
A website and podcast are both set to be launched in the Autumn of 2023, which will help network members, organisations and members of the public share knowledge and access key information whilst also providing necessary exposure for the organisations and people who are actively tackling poverty.
Dr Vicki Dabrowski, Lecturer in Sociology at Liverpool Hope University, said:
“The cost of living crisis is an acute symptom of long-standing issues of poverty and inequality, but as a consequence, more people than ever understand and can empathise with experience of poverty and deprivation.
“It therefore presents a unique opportunity to mobilise and drive real change in tackling issues of poverty and inequality, both regionally and nationally.
“That is why we have launched the Poverty Research and Advocacy Network. At our cost of living conference there was a strong consensus that the only way to achieve a more equal and empowered society is through collective action and this network will play an important role in the fight against poverty and injustice.”