The Commission’s membership consists of representatives from a range of constituencies including third sector organisations, education and the local authority.
Steve Wyn Williams- Chair of the Stoke-on-Trent Hardship Commission
My name is Dr Steve Wyn Williams and I have the privilege to be the current Chair of the Stoke-on-Trent Hardship Commission. I am now retired but I have lived and worked ( in both Staffordshire and Keele University) in the Stoke on Trent area for 43 years. I became a member of the Commission because I am committed to Stoke as a fantastic place to live, work and play. But I am also committed to social justice and the building of a more inclusive society.
Penny Vincent- All the Small Things
I joined the Hardship Commission to push for people with lived experience of poverty to have equal input on decisions and community action to tackle hardship and poverty in North Staffs. I trained as an advice worker with Stoke Citizens Advice many years ago and feel angry that the poverty people faced then has in many ways got worse. Poverty is wrong, no one should be poor when there is so much wealth in the world. I’m one of the Directors of All the Small Things CIC. We are a Social Action Hub – we train and support people to listen, connect, build power and take collective action for social justice. I believe that by working this way, the Hardship Commission is a partnership that will create a movement to raise voices, change minds and help end poverty in our area.
Daniel Flynn- YMCA
I am Daniel Flynn and am currently the CEO of YMCA North Staffordshire, our passion is to see young people and families thriving, enjoying the fullness of life. The biggest driver that works against that vision is the fundamental economic and social inequality. Our history, vision and values are all focused on the relief of poverty and hardship. and we fully support and work alongside partners and individuals to create a movement of kindness and support.
John Webbe- Emmaus North Staffordshire
As the Executive Lead for Emmaus North Staffs, a charity focused on supporting hundreds of vulnerable local people every year, the work of the Hardship Commission is critical in helping people understand the causes and impact of poverty on our communities. For our small team based in Hanley, we run a large furniture and household reuse shop which is open to the public 6 days a week and this enables us to provide over 2,500 items of furniture to local people not in a position to purchase themselves.
I’m particularly interested in furniture poverty from our charity’s perspective, but it’s so poorly appreciated even amongst the many organisations supporting people in poverty. I’m not sure why it’s not understood or appreciated, especially as it’s long-lasting and deeply damaging to residents’ physical and mental health. I think it might be because it’s not an immediate thing like putting food on the table or paying the bills, but with thousands of local people, including many children, living in houses with inadequate furniture, many thousands without a bed to call their own, we need to raise the profile of furniture poverty.
Paul Roberts- Willow Bank Partnership
I am Dr Paul Roberts and I have been on the Hardship Commission since its inception.
I am a GP by training and practiced for 30 years, first in Rochdale, and after 2003 in Longton and Meir.
Along the way I have worked in a hospice and for community drug and alcohol services.
I was the first CEO, and later Chair, of Willow Bank Partnership Community Interest Company, one of very few third sector entities in the UK that delivered general medical services to a local population.
I have always been interested in the story behind the story – trying to understand the reasons why an individual has the health they have. Sometimes this is just random misfortune. Often the reasons for poor health are not random but lie far beyond any “bad choices” the individual may have ever made. That some people, through no fault of their own, are likely to live shorter lives is unfair. The Hardship Commission is a much better tool for addressing this inequity than my prescription pad ever could be.
Nicola Gratton- Staffordshire University
I am Nicola Gratton, and I am Associate Professor of Community and Civic Engagement at Staffordshire University.
I have been a member of the Hardship Commission since 2019 when I worked on Get Talking Hardship, where we teamed with 43 Community Researchers from across the city to shine a light on the stories of people with lived experience of hardship and poverty in Stoke-on-Trent.
I am committed to rising the voices of people who have lived experience of hardship and poverty to collectively campaign for change. It is shocking that there are such high levels of poverty in the UK and that there are so many people struggling in our city.
I believe the Hardship Commission can bring together people who fully understand the impact of poverty on their lives and those with the power and influence to create change. Collectively we can challenge the stigma felt by so many people who are faced with the impossible choices on a daily basis, help resources reach the places they are most needed and make our world a fairer place.
Lloyd Cooke – Saltbox
Hello, I’m Lloyd Cooke and I have been the Chief Executive of Saltbox for over 30 years.
Saltbox is a charity in Stoke-on-Trent that provides support and advice for local churches and faith groups. Saltbox also provide three local caring services seeking to aid vulnerable people – Restart (homeless, ex-offenders), Carelink (elderly people) and Money Matters (debt).
I am also privileged to chair of a number of other bodies including Stoke Healthwatch, North Staffs Voluntary Sector Chief Officers’ Group, Ministry at Work (Business Chaplaincy) and the Lichfield Cathedral Council. My former roles include being a non-executive director for Stoke-on-Trent NHS Primary Care Trust and a member of Stoke-on-Trent Governance Transition Board.
I have been a fully accredited Methodist Lay Preacher since 1985 and worship at the Potters Church in Birches Head where I also chair the Church Council.
I am passionate to see the “sacred and secular” worlds work in closer partnership, and I spend much time engaging with agencies in the public sector and the wider voluntary, community and faith sectors.
I was born in Tunstall but over the years have lived in many exotic locations such as Burslem, Smallthorne, Etruria and Hanley! I am married to Kathryn who is a Methodist Minister and have one daughter, Holly, who lives and works in London. I am a life-long Stoke City fan and believe that God answers prayer!
Simon Harris– Citizens Advice North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
I’m Simon Harris, I’ve been the Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Staffordshire North & Stoke-on-Trent since 2002, having worked in the city for 17 years before that managing advice services. CASNS is committed to using advice work and campaigning to address issues of poverty, financial exclusion and inequality. I’ve been a member of the Hardship Commission since it began.