Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Five years of Lewes Living Wage; a report

We now have over 30 local employers signed up to pay the Real Living Wage in Lewes. This is the result of five years’ work by a small group of volunteers. During this time we have engaged in a number of activities (see list below), some more successful than others. Our aim has been to make our relatively prosperous town (population 18,000) aware of the need to tackle poverty through improving rates of pay in our area of exceptionally high rents and scarce social housing. We have three foodbanks which are used by an increasing number of people, currently over 275, and we work with these foodbanks.

While we have a number of national organisations with branches in Lewes which are signed up to the Living Wage Foundation, we have been unable to persuade any supermarkets to join, despite persistent lobbying, sometimes at the highest level.

A brief list of some of our activities
- create and update leaflets: distribute them wherever we can
- staff stalls at Farmers’ market, Societies Fair, Labour Party Town Hall event
- set up and maintain a website
- keep in touch with our list of 50 supporters informing about local developments
- publish letters and news items in national and local press
- write articles for local media - Viva Lewes,  Lewes News
- interviews on local Rocket FM Radio
- address meetings: Lewes Chamber of Commerce, Think Tank, Headstrong Club, Lewes Rotary
- keep in touch with Lewes Churches Together
- U3A Lewes Public Lecture by Professor Donald Hirsch on the Real Living Wage
- window display at Lewes Tourist Information Office during Living Wage Week
- speak and leaflet at Depot Cinema showings of I Daniel Blake and Sorry We Missed You
- made a short film about Lewes Living Wage for our website
- organised a round table forum for local businesses
- held lunch in the Town Hall for local businesses
- we write and speak to our local MP
- we lobby Town and District Councils

Our Town Council now pays the Real Living Wage and has supported us with small grants, and the District Council is now working toward this.

We live once again in a time of the ‘working poor’.  Over 70% of the 4 million children growing up in poverty are in families with a parent in work. The need for a REAL LIVING WAGE remains a pressing issue and we shall continue our campaign.