17 March 2022 – The ‘We need to talk about poverty’ event, being hosted by Central England Law Centre and Grapevine, has sold out with 130 people signed up from organisations spanning the voluntary sector, community groups, Coventry City Council and people with first-hand experience, all of whom work with people in the city that are locked in a cycle of poverty.

The online event is taking place on 17 March at 12pm and aims to:

  • deepen understanding of the harm poverty is doing in Coventry and to understand more about what is already happening across the city to help people;
  • identify ways organisations can partner and collaborate to get ahead of the problems people experience because of poverty and to prevent some of the suffering;
  • create an alliance, built on the commitment and dedication of frontline organisations, to make the most difference to those people in the city who are trapped in poverty.

Research carried out by Loughborough University in 2019 for EndChildPoverty.org confirmed 37% of children in Coventry were living in poverty with that number set to rise as we emerge from the pandemic and the cost of living set to increase (jrf.org.uk/data/child-poverty-rates-local-authority). Coventry City Council confirmed the city was one of the worst affected authorities in the country, with 18.8% of households in fuel poverty. In some areas of the city fuel poverty rates rise to over 30%. A household is said to be in fuel poverty when its members cannot afford to keep adequately warm at a reasonable cost, given their income.

Commenting ahead of the event, Sue Bent, chief executive officer of Central England Law Centre, said:

As a society, we believe in justice and compassion. But right now, in Coventry, many people are being trapped in a cycle of poverty with very limited opportunities to change their circumstances. Through our work at the law centre we come across people from a wide range of backgrounds who are struggling to make ends meet. Many are in work but the rising cost of living means they are fighting against impossible odds. Even before the pandemic, single parent households, people living with a long-term illness or disability and those classed as ‘no recourse to public funds’ were being forced into poverty but the Covid effect has made the situation desperate and meant that even more people are now being pulled in.

Clare Wightman, chief executive office of Grapevine Coventry & Warwickshire, said:

While we may not be able to change government policy on things like the soaring cost of living we can deepen our understanding of the harm poverty is doing in Coventry and form alliances and collaborations that would prevent some of the suffering and make the most difference we can to people who need our help most in our city.