Thomas Mayes – ATD Fourth World Activist

ATD Fourth World activist

Thomas Mayes is an ATD Fourth World activist with a lived experience of poverty, who has been a member of ATD’s International Board of Directors since 2014. His role in the Board represents ATD Fourth World’s inclusive approach to governance, whereby we ensure that people with a lived experience lead and are at the heart of our actions against poverty. He is also a member of the APLE Collective – a UK collective of individuals with experience of poverty who work together with organisations (of which ATD Fourth World is one) to take positive action to eradicate poverty – and ATD Fourth World UK’s National Coordination Team.


In his time with ATD Fourth World, Mr Mayes has been involved in a number of projects that emphasise the voices of people with a lived experience of poverty – people that “don’t normally have a voice” – and ensure that they are at the forefront of actions that aim to “tweak the system”.

One of these projects that Mr Mayes has been involved in was “The Roles We Play: Recognising the Contributions of People in Poverty”, an ATD Fourth World UK initiative that was born out of activist conversations at a residential meeting at Frimhurst Family House in Surrey, UK. The purpose of this project was not only for those with a lived experience of poverty to tell their own stories from their own point of view, but also for them to be practically involved in all aspects of the creation of the concluding film and report.

Other activist-led projects that Mr Mayes has been involved in are ATD Fourth World UK’s “Anti-Poverty Aware” Workshops, whereby activists with a lived experience of poverty provide training – by leading exploratory conversations – to both in-practice social workers (in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Southwark Council) and students of social work at universities.

In the video below, Mayes references these “Anti-Poverty Aware” Workshops, and describes how they motivate him, showing him the “little changes that [activists and ATD Fourth World] have made” along the way to “tweaking the system”. He also discusses his experiences with social work as well as his experiences working with ATD Fourth World, and answers the all-important question: “Why are you involved with ATD Fourth World?”

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