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Political mindsets

Talking about poverty: Lessons learnt

This report evaluates the Talking about Poverty project, which ran from 2016 to 2021, and aimed to develop a more effective way of communicating about UK poverty through ‘framing’ – an evidence-based communications strategy.

Written by:
Patrick Regan and Husna Mortuza
Date published:

The Talking about Poverty (TaP) project was a collaboration between JRF and FrameWorks UK, a not-for-profit communications research organisation which focuses on supporting mission-driven organisations to apply strategic communications research in practice.

It set out to understand the public’s attitudes to poverty in the UK and used insight from research with 20,000 people (Volmert et al, 2016) to develop ways to talk about poverty in a more effective way. To challenge the unhelpful narratives identified in the research, the project developed an evidence based communications strategy (‘poverty framing’) to increase the public’s understanding of UK poverty and provide support for measures to address it.

Key findings:

  • There are some key development areas for future framing projects such as stronger project planning and management, monitoring and evaluation, and sustainability planning.
  • The TaP project made people with lived experience of poverty who were engaged in the project feel more hopeful about the future and confident that the project would have a positive, accumulative effect on how poverty is being talked about in public discourse, with some indications that the project may have had some influence in the media and the House of Commons.
  • The TaP project created a buzz in the third sector and was credited with helping to build a movement, leading to a more co-ordinated sector. While the report identified a need and desire to engage the third sector and people with lived experience of poverty earlier on in the project, the vast majority of third sector partners and allies who were engaged in the evaluation both valued and used the framing in their work, crediting the framing with adding more dignity, positivity and effectiveness to their communications.
  • The TaP project brought hundreds of organisations together for the Keep the Lifeline campaign and provided a robust and evidence-based communications strategy for their internal staff and external allies.
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