Lambeth, London: ATD Fourth World

  Jean Stallings (left), Marie-Elisabeth Ayassamy (centre) and Diana Skelton (right) Photo: Katelyn Cheon


Since 1962


Lambeth, London

ATD Fourth World is a global human rights and anti-poverty organisation which has tackled inequality and promoted social justice in the UK since 1962. They aim to support families and individuals living in poverty by strengthening their support networks and developing their skills, confidence and knowledge.

Public discourse has been stereotyping people in poverty with negative and hurtful language that superimposes a bulls-eye target on human beings. In 2009, ATD Fourth World’s members met up and decided to push back against these dehumanising distortions


In 2009, ATD members from Islington, Hackney, Southwark and other parts of London launched a campaign to challenge negative stereotypes about people living in poverty. They created the exhibition and book The Roles We Play: Recognising the Contribution of People in Poverty which presented portraits of disadvantaged individuals and the many contributions they make to society, from helping neighbours to caring for elderly relatives, volunteering and raising children. The project also gave participants an opportunity to sharpen their skills in writing, editing and public speaking. They had a platform to explain their own lives, dreams and hopes for the future, in their own words and in charge of all editorial decisions and choice of images.

Until the Sky Turns Silver

In 2018, ATD Fourth World and Sondiata Global Media launched Jean Stallings’ social justice novel Until the Sky Turns Silver which tells the story of a 19-year-old woman living in poverty who is asked to speak at the United Nations. Stallings, Marie-Elisabeth Ayassamy and Diana Skelton collaborated on the novel based on their years in New York City alongside people in poverty who were preparing to speak at the United Nations for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17th). They drew on these experiences to create the novel.

“On October 17 [at the United Nations], you get to hear people put all those feelings of hurt and despair aside and to say, ‘I am somebody.” (Jean Stallings)

In May 2019, Until the Sky Turns Silver was declared a finalist in the category of “Current Events/Social Change” by the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

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