Coventry Poverty Alliance moves closer to mobilising

In March, Grapevine and Central England Law Centre convened an event on poverty to look at how local agencies, services, charities, voluntary and community groups and organisations could develop the best connected network of help to respond quickly and effectively to the growing cost of living crisis.

Coventry is actually rich in ways people can get help – and yet we still don’t seem to be able to make the difference needed to really shift the dial on poverty.

Detailed visual notes reflecting discussions at the online poverty event in March 2022. Produced by artist Melissa Smith the notes show speech bubbles, images, texts and highlights - most are described in the text of the blog post.
Visual notes produced by artist and Grapevine community organiser, Melissa Smith.

By joining forces and committing to forging an alliance, could we really make the most difference to those in our city who have the least?

External influences like government policy are hard to change but the last two years have proved that collectively we produce far better outcomes by working through things together rather than in isolation.

At ‘We Need to Talk About Poverty’, 52 of the 80 attendees from 37 organisations agreed to form an alliance to take this forward for Coventry.

We shared our concerns, our shared priorities and the beginnings of our shared vision for tackling poverty in the city. We wanted to deepen our understanding of the harm poverty is doing already. How can we collaborate? How can we prevent some of the suffering we see?

“The problem we’ve got now is that people’s income just doesn’t meet their essential expenditure.”

“There’s so many schools contacting me now to say they’ve got kids without coats or kids without socks.”

“It’s not just food banks now, it’s baby banks, clothes banks and personal hygiene banks. These are essentials people should just have.”

Our report sums up discussions from our event in more detail – contact us using the information below to find out more.

We concluded that at a basic and immediate level we need a clearly stated offer from all of us and a way to connect to it.

We know we need to move beyond better signposting or even ‘’navigation’’ between us, to collaborating and combining help around a person or a common set of issues. Not just to mitigate the impact of poverty but to catch it early too.

We need more co-creation – involving the voices of people in poverty and designing solutions with, not for, them.

A woman in glasses sits crying beside an unmade bed.
Image by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash.

An alliance was thought to be a good idea – where our city plan or framework would exist and where we agree principles and values and sign up to that. An equitable alliance of organisations across a big spectrum could also pool finances and resources.

So how do we focus our efforts and mobilise this alliance?

We will hold a further online event on Tuesday 14 June where we will look together at three things:

  1. Our vision and purpose – working towards building a shared, stated commitment.
  2. A clear and easy to find and use offer that we can mobilise as soon as possible in response to the cost of living crisis.
  3. Issues that come up frequently, where we feel stuck and start to build better joined up onward pathways for those issues.

It is not too late to join! Email our CEO Clare Wightman for more information or a copy of the initial report at