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Solving UK Poverty – Festival of Ideas

June 15, 2018 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Just how big a problem is poverty in the UK and who is impacted most? Join Campbell Robb, CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, and Helen Pearson, author of The Life Project as they discuss the scale of the problem and how it is affecting life chances for the most vulnerable in our society. The session is chaired by Chris Renwick of the University of York.

About the speakers

Helen Pearson is a science journalist, editor and author. As Chief Magazine Editor for Nature, the world’s leading science journal, she oversees all its journalism and opinion content. Her own stories have won accolades including the Wistar Institute Science Journalism Award and two best feature awards from the Association of British Science Writers.

Helen’s popular science book, The Life Project, was published in 2016 to critical acclaim. It was named best science book of the year by The Observer, was a book of the year for The Economist, was longlisted for the Orwell Prize and Highly Commended in the British Medical Association book awards 2017. It tells the story of the British birth cohorts, a remarkable series of scientific studies that have tracked generations of children growing up in Britain over the last 70 years, and how the results shaped medical and social policy. Helen has a degree in natural sciences from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in genetics.

Dr Chris Renwick is a Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of York. A historian of Britain since the early 19th century, his main area of expertise is the relationship between biology, social science, and politics – in particular how the interaction of the three has shaped the way we think about, study, and govern society. He has published widely on these subjects, including Bread for All: The Origins of the Welfare State (Allen Lane, 2017), which was recently short-listed for the Longman-History Today Book Prize and long-listed for the Orwell Prize. 

Campbell Robb joined the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust as Chief Executive in January 2017. Before joining JRF and JRHT, Campbell was the Chief Executive of Shelter for seven years. In this role, he led the organisation through one of the most challenging periods in its history. This included building a sustainable, fundable model of integrated advice and support that is helping more clients than ever before, a growth in independent income and leading the organisation’s response to some of the biggest changes to housing and welfare policy in generations.

Prior to joining Shelter, Campbell was the first Director General of the Office of the Third Sector, an adviser to The Treasury and was previously Director of Public Policy at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). Campbell is a trustee of Care International UK – www.careinternational.org.uk. In November 2017 he was awarded an Honorary degree from York St John University. Follow Campbell on Twitter at @campbell_robb.


June 15, 2018
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm


York Festival of Ideas
View Organiser Website


Ron Cooke Hub
Heslington East Campus
York, YO10 5DD United Kingdom
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