Councillors agree strategy to combat poverty in Northampton
Councillors have agreed a new anti-poverty strategy to try and help Northampton’s most vulnerable residents.
Members of Northampton Borough Council voted through a motion from Labour councillor Jane Birch, which was backed by all three parties when it met last Monday evening (July 22).
It will see the authority work with the voluntary sector in a more ‘joined-up way’ to prevent poverty in the first place.
In May, Northamptonshire Food Poverty Network said that roughly 12,000 children were growing up in poverty in Northampton. But the strategy is also aimed at helping people struggling with employment, isolation and mental health issues.
Councillor Birch said: “Poverty has a major impact in the life chances of our citizens. We have 18,000 plus children living in poverty in the county. We are seeing an increasing number of our elderly, vulnerable residents living in poverty.”
The council has now agreed to work with partners and services, such as Restore Northampton, to develop an anti-poverty strategy that will seek to prevent people and families becoming poor, support people and families with appropriate measures when they are poor, and support people to maximise their income to get them, and the following generation, out of poverty.
It will set up a six-member cross-party working group by the end of November to develop the strategy, which will then be brought back to council.
Anya Willis is a charity director for Restore Northampton, which looks after the Food Bank, and provides crisis support, food and necessities to those suffering from unforeseen economic hardship. It also shares skills and emotional and practical support.
The charity says it gives people a ‘hands-up’ rather than a ‘hand-out’.
Speaking after the motion was passed, she said: “I’m really pleased and this is a step in the right direction.
“There’s a lot of lessons to be learned on how NBC approaches things, and how it can work with the groups and services that are already working on ground level.
“We have quite a holistic approach, and we want to be alongside people for the long term and say that we are there for them.”
Councillor Birch was also delighted to see her motion voted through at the borough council, after a similar motion was rejected across the road at the county council last month.
She added: “This kind of partnership working is really rich and rewarding. Sometimes people slip through the net who haven’t come to the council, and it is groups like Restore which pick them up from the wayside.”