Joanna on becoming a Civic Commissioner in Round Two

I’m Joanna Young, a Civic Commissioner at the Morecambe Bay Poverty Truth Commission. It was a real honour to be invited to participate in this unique project and so far it’s been a joy. I have learned much from working with our Community Commissioners, listening to their stories and constantly admiring their bravery and tenacity in tackling tricky issues head on, with so much honesty. I was nervous before the commission started, but now I’m simply grateful for the blossoming friendships I have made so far with a variety of people who I might not otherwise have met. It’s deepened my sense of what community is and means, and I’m so thankful to be involved!

My day job is Service Development Director at Citizens Advice North Lancashire and I’m also a trustee and former chair at Morecambe Bay Foodbank. I was a city councillor from 2019-23 for the Green Party and I’m a governor at two schools in the District. These roles mean that I spend much of my time looking at trends, numbers and statistics, often relating to poverty and the effects of it.

The power of Poverty Truth is about holding the gaze of someone who is living in poverty, and listening deeply to what that experience is like for them. It can make us feel uncomfortable, and so it should. “Nothing About Us, Without Us, Is For Us” is more than just a slogan. My experience with the Poverty Truth Commission means that I now take this back to all the organisations I work with and ask that question all the time.

The working groups I am in are now giving a sharper focus to our work, the point of it, and how we can influence change. As well as working with Community Commissioners, one thing I have also really appreciated is meeting other dedicated professionals across a huge variety of fields who have so much expertise, and are willing to make change within their own organisations. A Poverty Truth Commission is so powerful! I look forward to seeing where our work develops in the coming months, and I hope it will leave a legacy of change.