Thrive working in Hartlepool: Improving Lives in partnership with people who are experiencing poverty.

Working with JRF, Hartlepower, West View Community Centre and Hartlepool Borough Council.

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Despite the tireless work to mitigate the impact of poverty on children and families in Hartlepool, numbers continue to rise at an alarming rate.

This is a local response to positively address the issues that people who are struggling to get by face and improve lives. It is acknowledged that many difficulties are exacerbated by specific policies and cuts to local funding. This piece of work will develop opportunities to raise awareness relating to national policy and external contributing factors, but its focus will remain local.

Hartlepool’s community voice is intended to:

  • Ensure the reality of people’s difficulties remains central to developing appropriate responses. The statistical scale of the issues at hand can be accessed and this group will ensure the lived reality of the statistical data. It will bring invaluable insight and knowledge to inform priority concerns and possible solutions in collaboration with the community.
  • Ensure ‘real time’ responses to issues raised and safeguard the ability to adapt to current changing landscapes, meeting local needs and continually assessing impact.
  • Provide opportunities to inform local practice, assess how effective local responses are and if they (a) are meeting the need and/or (b) can be scaled up/replicated in other areas.
  • Continually encourage the development of relationships with other organisations and potential stakeholders, preventing duplication of work streams and targeting resources.
  • Identifying our civic and business commissioners – who can we work with to address the priority issues?

Some of the issues raised: 

It’s expensive to be poor in Hartlepool: 

  • childcare costs are unaffordable – families (particularly grandparents) are filling this gap.
  • local cash points charge to withdraw money
  • costs to move household rubbish (if people don’t drive) and waiting times for goods to be picked up
  • the hidden additional costs associated with the school day – trips/uniforms/special days are becoming too difficult to fund and cope with
  • using corner shops is expensive – transport to supermarkets (which previously was deemed as a cheaper way to shop) is an additional cost and onerous for people with limited mobility or health needs

Mental health and wellbeing is becoming more problematic.

People are worried and anxious about paying bills, getting by and/or surviving.

Inability to access services.

Housing and the neglect of areas:

  • Living in inappropriate and poor housing in areas where anti-social behaviour is prevalent is a common theme and is raised more significantly by single people who feel like they have very little choice with regard to housing. 

What is the impact – what are people doing and how (if at all) are they managing?

Lived reality quotes

‘I can’t get a job – I am getting on a bit and there is not enough work for the youngsters. I have a history of drug use and have worked hard to stay clean, but who is gonna employ me.’                                             

– Hartlepool Resident.

‘That last week before you get your money is a killer, I have to hope my mam or someone can give us a borrow. If not, I have nowt then we all have to go without.’

– Hartlepool Resident.

‘I help my kids out which leaves me short. I lend them money to get by because they can’t afford to live. I put £10 on my daughters electric the other day. I doubt I will get this back as she doesn’t have enough money.’

– Hartlepool Resident

‘I have not been paying my bills and going without food in order to do something for my kids and put a smile on their faces. Do you know there are only so many times you can go to the same beach or park.’

– Hartlepool Resident.

‘I’m gutted every time I go shopping and can’t pick up much.’

– Hartlepool Resident.

‘I can’t afford to think about myself and have any kind of life, I have to put my kids first. It would be great to do a spa or something, but people would say that you can’t do that, who do you think you are so you’ve got to go without and just do what you can. But do you know, if I feel better, I also feel better around my kids. They see I am a bit more chilled.’

– West View Resident.

‘Free activities are great, but if you can’t afford the bus fare, you can’t go’.

– West View Resident.

‘I am eating less, bathing less, buying second hand clothes and using heating less. I never believed my retirement would be a one of extreme struggle. It’s reminiscent of post war Britain but in 2022’

– Hartlepool Resident.

Hartlepool residents

‘I don’t have much choice where I live, there are very few properties for single people in nice areas. I’ve been either stuck in a flat with people around me who sell drugs, have problems of their own or start bringing all sorts of people around …. I just close my curtains and try to keep my head down .. you shouldn’t have to live like that.’

– Hartlepool Resident.

‘I want to be able to provide for my family and not be forced to have to get second hand clothes for my daughter who is now going to secondary school. Why don’t they just make uniforms cheaper and get rid of logos. Me and my friends do a bit of a swap and that works for us.’

– Hartlepool Resident.

‘I am pretty good at managing my money and can cook all sorts with what little I have in the cupboard. The problem is you can only do so much with what you’ve got.’

– Hartlepool Resident.

‘People know if you are coming to a community centre then you are poor. I think that we need to have more things that are available to the full community – so you don’t know who is struggling and who isn’t.’

– Hartlepool Resident.

Work to date

At a very local level, it has been agreed to address the issue around food insecurity. The decision to look at food insecurity followed several sessions with members of the community. Decisions were arrived at through debate and discussions and considerable time was afforded to ensure the group felt able to voice their key ideas and thoughts

We have a core group of people living in the West View area of Hartlepool and their longer-term visions are to have (a) a holistic community shop in the West View area, providing services (agreed by the community and still to be fully developed) and affordable food and provisions and (b) utilise additional green spaces in the West View areas to grow food. 

In the short term, it was decided to (a) look at developing the Bread-and-Butter service (b) explore the development of the West View Advice and Resource Centre community space and (c) develop a town wide resident led voice forum.

If you would like to find out how to get involved in this initiative, please contact Tracey Herrington at