Thrive were out on Stockton High Street once again facilitating a community conversation workshop, ‘Voices From The Margin’ as part of a national conversation in the lead up to the General Election. A number of get-togethers were organised to talk vision, values, priorities, stories, identities, solidarities… and what we can do together as citizens.

As the election was drawing nearer, more and more people who have been left behind due to poverty were provided with the opportunity to speak out through a national Voices from the Margins project. It was felt that only by talking about issues that affect people together that we could know what we need our politicians to do with us, or for us.

The Poverty Alliance brought together people from across Scotland, while Church Action on Poverty have visited centres working with people facing severe disadvantage in Calderdale and Hull. Everywhere, people are taking pride in their communities even though they face huge difficulties – and a powerful challenge. Like elsewhere, Stockton on Tees also needs politicians who understand the difficulties and who will work with people to overcome them.

Stockton residents were asked if you had 30 seconds to talk to your candidates what would you say to them? Responses included ‘how are you going to help the most vulnerable in our society? We have too many children going hungry, families unable to put food on the table and people not having enough money to live on’. Limited job opportunities, the harshness of the sanctions regime and zero hours contracts were also highlighted as particularly problematic. People were worried about the proposed building of the Hilton Hotel and what would happen if this was not a success – would services be cut? Would council tax rise?

Thrive extended an invitation to all candidates from Stockton North and Stockton South to take part in this Community Conversation and provided them with an opportunity to listen and respond to some of the comments raised by people living in Stockton. Representation was visible from Labour, UKIP, The Green Party and the Lib Dems. Unfortunately, no communications were received from the Conservative Party candidates.

Thrive would like to thank all those who participated and shared their comments about living and working in Stockton on Tees.

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