New report on poverty in Lewisham published
A group of local councillors and poverty experts have published a new report on poverty. Working together to tackle poverty in Lewisham outlines the findings of the Lewisham Poverty Commission.
The Commission’s aims are to:
- recommend ways to alleviate poverty
- reduce the negative effects of poverty
- help communities be more resilient against poverty.
In December 2017, the Poverty Commission will present a report with recommendations to the elected Mayor and Cabinet and to our Executive Management Team.
Of particular interest to civil society organisations are the recommendations on page 24:
(Excerpt from Working together to tackle poverty in Lewisham)
Supporting community activity
- Lewisham Local should consider developing an anti-poverty fund to fill the current gap in micro-grants to support local community activity. This could be funded by using relevant financial contributions from planning obligations.
- A ‘vulnerability audit’ should be conducted by the Community Connections Service, 60 that identifies where there are ‘invisible needs’ and where resilience is lowest across the borough to ensure services can become more targeted towards the borough’s most deprived residents.
- Local Assemblies should be encouraged to function as spaces in which the community sector can develop partnerships, share learning and share information on local activities.
- Lewisham Council should work with Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Lewisham GPs and the borough’s third sector to enable GPs to take up Social Prescribing across the borough.
Increasing people’s access to advice and support
- Lewisham Council should build on its work with Go On Lewisham to support the most deprived parts of the community gain basic digital skills by supporting and prioritising community activity which helps develop people’s digital skills, with due consideration of where these services are located.
The activities by the borough’s community sector should be actively promoted to residents and amongst community organisations by:
- Developing a consolidated and live register of community activity
- Promoting Voluntary Action Lewisham (VAL) contact information in Lewisham Life
- Promoting local community activity more in the local press
The benefits of volunteering
- The Council should improve and promote its employee volunteering policy to encourage council staff to volunteer in the borough’s most deprived communities by working with Voluntary Action Lewisham and using the evidence from the ‘vulnerability audit’ described above. The newly launched employee volunteering policy could then be used as an exemplar for Lewisham Local partners to promote to businesses inside and outside the borough, and encourage best practice.
- Lewisham Local, working with employers inside and outside the borough, should work towards supporting people who are not ready for work into volunteering opportunities which allow them to develop transferable skills and provide training on how to communicate or translate this in practice.
A stronger voluntary sector
- The Council should work with VAL and Lewisham CCG to support the borough’s voluntary and community sector to access contract opportunities by organising ‘meet the commissioner days’ and committing to early notification when contracts go to tender.
The Council should use its procurement processes to ensure that all components of the Social Value Act (2012), including community engagement, are geared towards the needs of the most deprived members of the borough. This could be achieved by:
- Ensuring that all procurement processes are brought to the attention of the Social Value Officer in time to develop relationships with providers
- Including statements on the social value offer of all new contracts and all decisions to go to tender in the reports used in the Council’s formal decision-making processes including for its Mayor and Cabinet meetings.
- Making community consultation and service user engagement a key component of social value.
Download the report by clicking this link.