Class Talk

03.10.2020 - By Seriously…

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Kerry Hudson, author of Lowborn, has learned to code switch with the literary elite, but how can people stuck in poverty or middle class bubbles make meaningful connections?

Kerry starts her exploration in her native Scotland with a project providing 'pre-loved' school uniforms to families in poverty. As vital a service as this is it’s the way people access it that's important. Founder Julie Obyrne makes it as simple, as discrete and respectful as possible. There are no forms to fill out, no referral process or establishing of need. You phone the number, give your first name and simply explain what you require. Julie will then meet you at the local shopping centre and hand it over. Confidentiality and dignity are at the heart of the service.

But if this is the way that people who are struggling need to access help why isn't anyone listening to them? Kerry's next stop is with a project aiming to address just that. Expert Citizens put people with lived experience at the centre of service design. It draws on the hard won lessons of people who've lived with homelessness, substance abuse or domestic violence to provide a consultancy service to officialdom.

But it’s an uphill battle for people at the bottom to get those in the better off parts of society to even bother listening to them. How can a dialogue even take place between classes? One possible model exists but tellingly it’s not in the UK. Cross Class Circles is a community project in Brattleboro Vermont, Kerry hears from the organisers and participants from both sides of the US class divide about why these conversations are so important.

Producer: Liza Grieg

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