APLE Collective- Our Story So Far

The APLE Collective is a national collective of individuals who experience poverty. Working together with organisations that support us to take positive action to eradicate poverty.

In February 2018, a number of groups led by people with direct experience of poverty were invited to meet up with the Poverty2Solutions alliance (ATD Fourth World, Dole Animators and Thrive).

  • Hope Rising Action
  • Salford Poverty Truth Commission
  • West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission
  • Community Pride CIC
  • Expert Citizens

From this gathering, it was agreed that there appears to be advantages and mutual benefits in coming together as a larger network of people with direct experience of poverty. It is only when people with direct experience of any given issue are able to have opportunities to affect the decisions that impact on them, that real, meaningful change can happen. People with direct experience of poverty have experience and expertise that are critical to inform effective decision making processes that have the potential to make positive advancement with life chances and improvements in personal livelihoods. Having a lone voice without support makes this difficult. A collective can offer support and make it possible to affect change.

To explore this idea further, a gathering of groups led by people with direct experience of poverty and facilitated by Turning the Tide came together in April 2018. Initial thoughts and ideas expressed at this meeting included:

  • The need to think about a shared mission statement and agree the governance arrangements
  • How to effectively build networks of connections?
  • How could the APLE collective ensure knowledge is best be shared?
  • What does support mean to the member groups?
  • How can a collective best ensure national exposure on shared issues?
  • The value of changing the narrative – change the story so that media stories focus on the lived experience

By June 2018, the collective’s mission statement was agreed:

“we aim to create a sustainable grassroots network across the UK. To raise awareness of poverty, reduce stigma and work together to affect change”

The first piece of work actioned by the APLE collective was held on October 17th (International Day for the Eradication of Poverty). Groups led by people with direct experience of poverty throughout the UK united and raised awareness of this significant day. Some of the collective activities included:

  • ATD Fourth World event at House of Lords – Over Coming Poverty Through Lived Experience.
  • APLE Collective, Dole Animators and Pov2Solutions spoke at the ATD House of Lords event alongside Baroness Ruth Lister.
  • Thrive Teesside held an event on Stockton High street to raise awareness of issues in Stockton. This event also include a ‘speakers corner’
  • Salford PTC designed and delivered a workshop for the Social Audit Network Annual Conference to raise awareness of how social value and working with communities can help to eradicate poverty.
  • West Cheshire PTC held their first meeting of the second West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission.
  • Dole Animators and other groups from Leeds and Bradford created Poverty Zines at a Zine making workshop with Ruth Patrick.
  • The APLE Collective held a twitter takeover of Ros Wynne Jones Wigan Pier Project and shared the work of the APLE collective and messages throughout the day.
  • The APLE Collective created a Twitter account that reached 600 followers in just 6 days.

As part of improving national media coverage, The APLE collective was supported by JRF and provided with opportunities to speak out about Universal Credit

  • A letter was sent to Esther McVey (the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) to request a meeting and the opportunity for people with lived experience to be involved with informing the design of social security systems.
  • The letter was published by The Times in the Editors letters section. This letter was applauded by Ruth Lister as ‘ground-breaking’ for two reasons (1) having a letter published in the Times by groups of people with direct experience has never been achieved before and (2) the letter appeared next to a letter from Frank Field MP, Chair of the Work and Pension’s Select Committee
  • The Times then went on to run a 3 day undercover piece on Universal Credit
  • Participants from Salford PTC, ATD 4th World, West Cheshire PTC and Thrive all spoke out about their experiences of Universal Credit on Channel 4 News, in the Daily Mirror, Guardian and The Independent

Our article in The Sun newspaper- Read Here.

Our Channel 4 video on Universal Credit- Watch Here.

Our article in The Mirror- Read Here.

In the 10 months since the idea of a forming a national collective of people with direct experience of poverty was aired, the collective had evidenced a number of significant achievements. Interest in membership increased, relationships had been developed, additional media training had been provided and the collective have united to raise awareness of a significant issue affecting people living in poverty.

APLE Collective continued to develop in 2019, with another successful International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. APLE Collective members asked for groups with lived experience of poverty to share their anti-poverty campaign action with APLE. This activism was mapped onto an interactive UK Map which enabled users of APLE’s aplecollective.com website to scroll over icons on the map and see what anti-poverty activism by lived experience was happening across the UK.

The campaign was a real success. Twenty two events were listed on the APLE Collective Map. Fourteen online support links were made. The Light up the UK Map had a high social media presence with over fifty eight thousand impressions being logged on the APLE Twitter account by Twitter analytics during the month of October. APLE Collective followers on twitter increased over two hundred to a total of 864 followers by 1st November 2019.

APLE Collective members took part in several successful events which were logged onto the Light Up the UK Map Campaign. ATD Fourth World launched their participatory research report, Understanding Poverty in all its Forms; a three year participatory learning project with people who have lived experience of poverty. ATD Fourth World also held a successful event in Bermondsey celebrating anti-poverty campaigner Ada Sumpter and encouraging anti-poverty activism. Thrive in Teeside held a debate discussing the impact of neoliberalism on poverty. The event included a presentation by Dr Jo Foster PhD and discussed the social impact of de-industrialisation encouraged participants to question the causes of poverty. Dole Animators, in Leeds held a campaigning event and film showing. Expert Citizens, in Stoke on Trent supported the APLE Campaign on Twitter.

These campaign events were added to a range of events that foregrounded anti-poverty campaigning by lived experience. Some of these events were hosted by larger organisations such as End Child Poverty or Joseph Rowntree Foundation but all events that featured on the Light up the UK Map foregrounded anti-poverty campaigning by lived experience which is APLE Collective’s primary aim.

In January 2020, APLE Collective members met in Stoke on Trent to plan the year’s activities and to mourn the loss of respected ATD Fourth World Community Activist Moraene Roberts. Moraene’s activism to amplify the voices our lived experience was powerful and very much missed. Plans were made to work with Frameworks Institute to offer two webinars in the spring of 2020 around Talking about Poverty. As the pandemic was declared in March 2020 face to face meetings became Zoom meetings and digital exclusion among our members was an immediate issue.

Digital exclusion for APLE Collective was an issue not simply in terms of accessing community support, public health information, home education and job searching but more fundamentally about voice. To be digitally excluded in 2020 meant to be silenced. The APLE Collective began campaigning loudly about the digital divide, we spoke at APPG Universal Credit, at the Local Trust Conference and at a variety of other locally based events sharing the issues around the digital divide and seeking solutions. Our campaigning work was highlighted by our Funder Joseph Rowntree Foundations, the Guardian and BBC. This digital divide campaigning was amplified during the International day for Eradication of Poverty, when we took over our funder, JRF’s twitter feed, we produced a series of videos around the importance of voice and one again lit up our UK Map with the actions and voices of lived experience.

During 2020 we used participatory approaches to online meetings and reached out to collaborate with new partners #Operation WiFI and The Good Things Foundation on their Leave nobody in the Dark Campaign. We also grew as a collective, doubling in size from four to eight; welcoming RAPAR, Community Organisers, Hartlepool Action Lab and Poverty Truth Community. 

In 2021 we have continued to build on our digital divide campaign and to grow our collective, welcoming new members Single Parent Rights Campaign, Starting Point, LIFE Foundation.