Case Study - Renfrewshire Council
Since signing up to Stick Your Labels in 2015, Renfrewshire Council has developed a Tackling Poverty Programme to deliver the Tackling Poverty Strategy and Action Plan. They describe the project as “big, fast and ambitious” and that it shows a real commitment to delivering change for people in Renfrewshire. There are around 50 projects within the program, and they vary in size and scope. The projects seek to deliver long-term change in the way that the Council and their partners work. The council is currently gathering learning from the projects and evaluating their success. The plan for after this is to develop an evidence-based approach to tackling poverty in Renfrewshire.
During this project, Renfrewshire Council have continued to engage directly with people experiencing poverty throughout the entire project with the aim to create an ongoing conversation with residents, rather than carry out traditional consultation exercises with a start and end date.
In addition to this, Renfrewshire Council have ensured that their communications and marketing activities use language that is both non-stigmatising and inclusive, in line with the guidance given as part of Stick Your Labels. They want people experiencing poverty to feel like they are part of the process and in all their publications and press releases they use individual stories in order to change the public’s attitudes while raising awareness. Renfrewshire Council has tried to engage people and deliver messages in various formats to reach as wide an audience as possible. They want to make the concept of poverty relevant and easy to understand while avoiding stigmatisation.
Since signing up to Stick Your Labels, Renfrewshire Council have also held an event with the Poverty Alliance which aimed to challenge peoples’ attitudes towards poverty and gave an opportunity to discuss the ways in which organisations can work at a local level to change the way they talk about poverty.
In conjunction with their Tackling Poverty Programme, Renfrewshire Council developed a Stigma Campaign project in order to directly address the stigma that many people experiencing poverty feel. Renfrewshire Council acknowledged that a wide range of public services can create stigmatising experiences for residents and wanted to proactively engage in a project that explores and addresses this and improves the experiences of both residents and staff. The project will start in Customer and Business Services as this is the council’s main point of access and will also roll out to Housing Officers as well as Libraries and Advice Works staff. The projects main aims are to dispel myths around poverty, raise awareness of the consequences of these myths on low-income residents. It also aims to improve resident’s perceptions of Renfrewshire Council services inclusive and not stigmatising while identifying service improvements and tools that can improve the experience of both service users and staff.
Renfrewshire Council partnered with the STAR Project to develop and deliver the training for this project. Based in Paisley, the STAR Project is a community-based organisation that works with families and individuals. STAR has a wide knowledge of poverty stigma and piloted the training in May 2016. While the pilot was carried out to the 10 Customer Service Advisers, phase 2 was delivered to 18 Housing Officers in November 2016. The success of phase 2 resulted the decision to provide the last and the biggest series of training to 48 staff from Libraries, Advice Works, Customer Services and Housing Associations which is planned to take place at the end of February.
To read more about Renfrewshire Council’s journey so far, please click here