North of Tyne Poverty Truth Commission


Between October 2021 and January 2024, the North of Tyne Poverty Truth Commission listened to people with experience of poverty in Newcastle, North Tyneside, and Northumberland to develop a deep understanding of the issue for our region.


What is a Poverty Truth Commission?

The guiding principle of a Poverty Truth Commission is ‘Nothing about us, without us, is for us’. In a Poverty Truth Commission, those with direct experience of poverty (‘Community Commissioners’) share their knowledge about what is needed to make meaningful changes to improve the lives of those living in poverty. Together, they explore their experiences and decide what they would like to communicate about poverty to their community. Individuals with the power to influence change within organisations and institutions (‘Civic and Business Commissioners’) also participate in the process, building understanding and relationships, and promoting best practices across their organisation and networks.


What makes the North of Tyne Poverty Truth Commission unique?

North of Tyne was the first Combined Authority in the UK to host a Poverty Truth Commission and the project was the first to serve multiple council areas, including Newcastle, North Tyneside, and Northumberland. The Commission was a direct response to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had made life difficult for many residents.




What the Commission want you to know…

Over 18-months of sharing stories and experiences of poverty, Commission members identified some major challenges affecting people living in poverty they wanted to increase awareness of:

  • How services are delivered and structured, and the development of policies, can all impact negatively on those in poverty.
  • Poverty can increase the risk of experiencing traumatic events such as abuse, neglect, violence or hunger.
  • Social inclusion must be seen as an equal partner to economic growth.


Hear first-hand the impact of poverty on the lives of Commissioners

North of Tyne Poverty Truth Commission

North of Tyne Poverty Truth Commission

Gemma’s story

“Can you imagine being a parent of a child with SEND and not being able to pay for everything they need for their care? You rely on health and social services to decide what help you can access, and housing services choose where you live.”

Read Gemma’s story >

Penny’s story

“Part of the challenge is the stigma, the idea someone accessing any kind benefits are playing the system or going to make bad decisions. In reality, it’s such a small percentage who abuse the system.“

Read Penny’s story >

David’s story

“From when you wake up to when you go to bed, it’s about surviving. I’ve worked and paid in during my life and now care for my mum. If you have a shorter-term problem, kids, time-off work or family, the system doesn’t take account of that.”

Read David’s story >

Amy’s story

“ I truly want all vulnerable single parents to be properly supported by society and not labelled, caring is a valuable role too and should be seen in that way.”

Read Amy’s story >


Outcomes of the North of Tyne Poverty Truth Commission

The North of Tyne Poverty Truth Commission was a complex project building relationships across diverse communities, deep listening to the challenges of poverty across the North of Tyne, and raising awareness about how poverty can be better understood and alleviated.

Some of the more tangible outcomes of the Commission include:

The video Pride and Dignity in Food Shopping, supporting those living in food poverty to understand a range of options available to them and highlighting the value of autonomy in food choices. Watch Pride and Dignity in Food Shopping >

Over the course of the Commission, some Community Commissioners were recognised for their advocacy and given platforms to continue their work, including David Black being appointed as a Governor at Newcastle Hospitals and Penny Walters being awarded a British Empire Medal for her work campaigning against poverty.

Two open letters to MPs, CEOs, policy-makers and other leaders on in Health and Care. One calling for a more proactive approach to preventing illness and the other removing barriers to people with caring responsibilities to employment.

Funding was secured by Commission members to develop further work tackling poverty.

Pledges were made by guests of the end of project event, committing to actions that would promote change, including increased campaigning, improving understanding of poverty within their organisation, listening to ‘experts of experience’ and promote their staff be trauma informed.

A ‘Call to Action’ event has inspiring many organisations in the North of Tyne region to continue the work of the commission. Read press on the Call to Action event >

Download the full North of Tyne Poverty Tyne Poverty Truth Commission Report

The North of Tyne Poverty Truth Commission was delivered by Children North East and funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.