One of a kind youth anti-poverty event to take place at the Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury – 8 December 2018.

People in the UK believe in the values of justice and compassion and that everyone deserves the chance for a decent standard of living. However, for a long time those trapped in poverty or who are struggling financially – including children and young people – have had to live with widespread social stigma that they are at fault as individuals for these challenges.

The stigma caused by poverty restricts people’s ability to access the opportunities available to others. This is why this landmark event organised by the youth tech organisation ThinkNation and hosted by the Gulbenkian Theatre, in partnership with a new anti-poverty initiative Project Twist-It, is so important.


Telling a Different Story about Poverty

Project Twist-It is a multi-platform initiative founded by the author and journalist Mary O’Hara and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to shift the conversation around poverty in Britain and America. As part of this project, young people from across Britain will come together in Canterbury on 8 December to share – live on stage in front of a public audience – their ideas on how we can tell a new story about poverty and smash the stigma experienced in schools, online, in the media and society.

Hosted by filmmaker and journalist Billie JD Porter (BBC, Channel 4) ThinkNation: Project Twist-It LIVE!​ ​brings​ ​young people aged 14–24 together for one day when they will collaborate with mentors from business, tech, the arts, academia and the public sector to come up with solutions to the longstanding negative stereotypes around poverty.


The Event

ThinkNation: Project Twist-It Live! kicks off with a special screening of a short film made especially for Project Twist-It, in which young people from across the country share their insights on poverty and how we can change the way it is perceived and discussed.

The evening includes special acoustic performances from Louisa Roach, lead singer and songwriter for Liverpool-based band ​She Drew The Gun. T​ here will also be an inaugural screening of a short film about Battersea Arts Centre’s BeatBox Academy run by the musician and theatre-maker Conrad Murray, as well as​ ​Q&A sessions with invited panellists and live performances from ground-breaking young poets.

Following a day of workshops with leading mentors from a range of sectors, 20 young people from diverse backgrounds will present their responses to tackling the way we talk about poverty.


Child Poverty in the UK: Stats.


In-work child poverty rates are closely linked to the number of adults in work in the family and their hours of work. Child poverty rates are very low for children in families where two parents are in work, with at least one in full-time work. Families with a single earner or with only part-time workers experience much higher poverty rates.

Children in lone-parent families have high poverty rates, even when their parent works full time. In lone-parent families working full time poverty has risen from 13% in 1996/97 to 23% in 2016/17. Between 1996/97 and 2010, the child poverty rate in lone-parent families working part-time halved from 46% to 23%. It has since risen back to 38%. Poverty among single earner couples rose from 29% in 1996/97 to 38% in 2014/15. This rate has decreased twice in the last two years to 34%.

Over the last 20 years, child poverty has been highest in families with three or more children. This rate decreased from 1994/95 to 2010/11 but has begun to rise again in the last few years to 42% in 2016/17 (even before the two child limit on benefits and tax credits was introduced in April 2017). The child poverty rate for families with one child and two children in 2016/17 was 25% and 26% respectively.

The child poverty rate in families with three or more children in 1994/5 was 45%, compared with 27% of children in families with one child and 26% of children in families with two children.



Child poverty in the UK is on the rise, with latest figures from the Child Poverty Action Group revealing that 30% of children in the UK are now growing up in poverty. The figures show an even more dramatic rise in poverty in working households – with over two thirds of children poverty living in households where at least one person is working. TUC research in May 2018 revealed 3.1 million children in working households are below the poverty line – a rise of 1 million since 2010. Growing up in poverty has long-lasting effects for these children – it impacts their educational attainment (those on free school meals have a 28% lower attainment at GCSE level), physical and mental health.


Project Twist-It founder Mary O’Hara (The Guardian, Austerity Bites) said:

“As someone who grew up in poverty and who has been writing about it for over a decade I have been repeatedly struck by the fact that there is a stigma attached to poorer people. For young people this can be especially profound and a source of shame. With Project-Twist-It I wanted to create something that helped change this. Terms like ‘skiver’ and ‘scrounger’ have helped create misconceptions about the causes and impact of poverty and they contribute to negative stereotypes. As a society I believe we can do better and that we can challenge the unhelpful rhetoric that surrounds poverty and reduce the harm it does.

Young people are central to any change in the way we talk about poverty so Project-Twist-It partnered with ThinkNation to find a way to amplify their voices. I have no doubt that the solutions to the problem of poverty stigma will come from our young people and am absolutely delighted that so many will take part in our event in December at the Gulbenkian Theatre.”


About Mary:

Mary is a published author of the best selling book, Austerity Bites. She is also the producer of top-ranking podcast, Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness who stars in Queer Eye on Netflix.


ThinkNation: Project Twist-It Live! will take place at the Gulbenkian Theatre, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NB, Saturday 8 December 2018.

Doors Open at 5.45pm Event: 6pm-8.30pm

Tickets are free and available from the Gulbenkian Box Office, or online at: ​


SPECIAL GUEST: Louisa Roach, She Drew The Gun (BBC 6Music stage at SXSW)

Louisa Roach, lead singer and songwriter for Liverpool-based band ​She Drew The Gun, ​will perform an acoustic version of their breakthrough track, ​Poem,​ which features in the Project Twist-It film. Louisa will also close the event with another performance.


About Project Twist-It:

Project Twist-It is a multi-platform initiative that aims to shift the negative rhetoric around poverty in US & UK. By working with artists, writers, and performers to harness the power of storytelling and by elevating the voices of people with lived experience, Project Twist-It hopes to foster a new kind of conversation around poverty. Project Twist-It is conceived and driven by journalist Mary O’Hara and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.


About ThinkNation:

Founded by Lizzie Hodgson, ThinkNation is a youth-focused organisation that empowers young people to explore the impact of tech on their lives through workshops, short films and

events. ThinkNation has partnered with Project Twist-It to produce a documentary short where young people discuss what poverty means to them, host idea workshops, and produce December’s Project Twist-It event.