Poverty experts visit Sociological Studies students to discuss the roles we play in our communities
Second-year undergraduate students taking the ‘Sociology of the Family’ module were recently visited by a group of poverty-experts from the human rights-based, anti-poverty organisation ATD Fourth World.
ATD speakers presented their collaborative project ‘The Roles We Play’, and shared their experiences, before opening up discussion around perceptions of poverty.
The Roles We Play is a film project and book that details the important roles that ordinary people play in their communities. The inspiration for the project came from a desire to shed light on what people do to combat poverty and social exclusion in their every day lives.
Dr Will Mason, convenor of the Sociology of the Family module, explained why it was important that ATD Fourth World joined Sociology students to discuss the issue of poverty. He said: “ATD Fourth World’s recent collaborative project, with photographer Eva Sajovic, presents a highly impactful set of portraits and narratives detailing the invaluable but everyday roles people play in their communities to combat poverty and social exclusion.
“Convening this workshop offered an opportunity to share this dynamic and important work with students, adding context to the sociological research we have studied, through the lens of the poverty experts.”
It hit home how very real and common poverty is within such a 'rich' country like the UK.
student cameron baker
Student Cameron Baker said: “The session with ATD Fourth World was incredibly insightful for me. When we usually look at poverty in everyday life many of us just think of numbers, and we probably don't think about how these numbers are just ordinary people like ourselves.
“What stood out to me the most within the session was how these people have to continuously repeat their situation to get any form of help. Afterwards, it hit home how very real and common poverty is within such a 'rich' country like the UK. I would love to take time to help the people who are struggling, even if it is to just say "Hello, how are you today"?”
Fellow student Matthew Blomefield added: “Having talked about concepts like social exclusion and poverty beforehand, it was refreshing and important to talk to people who actually have experience of these things. It made me more aware of the people who are affected, and the variety of people who are affected.
“I've thought before about the abstract issue; I'm trying now to consider poverty from their perspective. Also, these people aren't just 'poor souls' in need. They do important things for others that keep things working.”
Human rights-based organisation ATD Fourth World has more than 40 years’ experience of engaging with individuals and institutions to find solutions to eradicate extreme poverty in the UK. The recent visit to the University of Sheffield was the first time the organisation has presented its work as part of a university course.
Dann Kenningham from ATD Fourth World said: "It was very important for the group that their work was recognised officially by the university. Even though we have presented a social work module before in a university setting, this was the first time we have presented a body of work created and developed by people with an experience of poverty as part of a university course."
You can download a copy of ‘The Roles We Play’ here.