University of York

Improving social security






January – December 2022

Grant Awarded



Project summary

Changing Realities will work with people with direct experience of hardship/social security, facilitating and enhancing their involvement in policy and parliamentary processes, public and media debates on poverty.


Many of those on the lowest incomes have been hit hardest financially by the pandemic. The project draws on the voices of those with direct experience of poverty and social security, engaging them in the changes that are needed. The work builds on the Covid Realities programme which explored the experiences of parents and carers on low incomes during the pandemic.

Project overview

The programme is composed of interlinked activities which combine to impact public debates on poverty. Each theme has developed from the interests and priorities of participants themselves, embedding the participatory and collaborative approach. They have also been selected with the scope for policy engagement in mind as this project is driven by a desire to generate change. The themes are:

  • The need to improve Universal Credit;
  • The cost of living crisis;
  • Single parent families.

The work aims to:

  • Influence policy change in key policy areas;
  • Amplify the engagement and influence of people with direct experience of poverty and social security in policy and parliamentary debates and processes;
  • Create change in media narratives on poverty and social security by supporting experts-by-experience to participate in public and media debates;
  • Develop new knowledge about experiences of poverty and social security receipt two years on from the start of the pandemic;
  • Generate evidence on the impact of national and devolved differences in the delivery of social security to underpin policy recommendations;
  • Share and document best practice in participatory, collaborative research, advocacy and policy development.