Wokingham Borough’s first Tackling Poverty Strategy is set to be approved by the Council’s decision-making Executive when it meets next Thursday (30 June).
This follows nearly 12 months of development with residents, partners in the voluntary sector, and council colleagues to understand more about the inequalities that exist in the borough, and how they can be improved.
To drive this work, the council has created the Hardship Alliance, with four leaders from Citizens Advice Wokingham, First Days Children’s Charity, AgeUK Berkshire, and Wokingham United Charities.
Together with the council, this group will lead on the delivery of the strategy, with input from the wider voluntary sector. Its over-arching aim is to do everything to prevent and work towards ending poverty in the borough.
Annual action plans
The strategy is underpinned by annual action plans, which will be developed each year to address the immediate impacts felt by residents. These plans aim to support people who are in financial hardship; help people move out of poverty and protect those at risk of falling into poverty.
In its first year, some of the main actions include improving key services; continuing to run the One Front Door service; making sure people can easily find information about the support available; helping people to find jobs and improve their skills; lobbying for changes to government policy to help those most in need; increasing access to debt advice; supporting people who need help when they move into council homes and more.
Fighting the causes of poverty
Cllr Clive Jones, the new leader of Wokingham Borough Council, said: “We are putting tackling poverty at the heart of our agenda, because we believe there is no place for poverty in society. We are proud to be working with local charity leaders to roll out a strategy that will make a real difference to our residents.”
Cllr Rachel Bishop-Firth, the new executive member for equality inclusion and fighting poverty, said: “The cost of living crisis means that many of our essential key workers, carers and pensioners are living in poverty or at risk of falling into poverty.
"The council is committed to doing all that we can to support these residents and to fight the causes of poverty here in Wokingham. In doing this we will work alongside our voluntary sector partners and wider community to make a real difference.”
Help is here
The council is reminding residents of support that is available to those who are struggling:
The Hardship Alliance
Amy Garstang, Manager of Wokingham United Charities and Chair of the Hardship Alliance said: “We’re delighted to have had the opportunity to contribute to the successful completion of the Borough’s first Tackling Poverty Strategy.
"There is already so much good work going on in the Borough to support those in need. But we are now more confident than ever that as a result of the extensive collaboration between the council and voluntary sector, we can make an even greater impact.
“The Hardship Alliance has been meeting fortnightly to discuss key issues and how we can continue to involve key partners in the formation of the Hardship Alliance Action Group, which will assist in delivering the action plan.
"We’d like to thank everyone at the council and from across the voluntary sector for their commitment and invaluable contributions to making this possible. The Hardship Alliance is excited to see how we can continue to work in partnership to implement this strategy over the course of the next few years.”
For more information about support you may be able to access, please visit the council’s online Local Support Hub.
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