Scotland's Poverty Truth Commission has highlighted the need for a radical cultural change if poverty in Scotland is to be tackled effectively.
A major report launched on Saturday calls “on people living in poverty to be involved in shaping and delivering anti-poverty policy.”
It continues: “We challenge [all layers of] government to involve directly those who struggle against poverty in designing, implementing and evaluating solutions to poverty.”
Over the last two years, the Commission has brought together some of Scotland’s most senior civic leaders with people who have a direct experience of poverty.
Jim Wallace, former Depute First Minister, speaking at the launch of the report in Glasgow City Chambers on Saturday said that his involvement with the Commission had convinced him of the need for change: “We can no longer afford to develop strategy designed to tackle poverty which does not involve people living in it.
“We have seen the benefits and know this way works.”
In its findings the Commission not only challenges government to involve directly people struggling against poverty in its decision making processes but also calls upon voluntary and third sector organisations to commit the time, people and resources to make this happen.
It recognises the “wisdom, knowledge and expertise of people living in poverty” and calls for people to work together for lasting change.
Martin Johnstone, the Commission’s secretary, said: “Over the last two years we have consistently gained from the involvement of people on the inside of poverty. We have identified practical ways through complex problems.
“We have also been reminded that this is about more than policy or programme, it is about people’s lives – people who matter.”
Blair Green, who has regularly worked a 70 hour week in minimum wage jobs to support his family, believes that something different must now happen: “I can’t change the past but as for the future I want to make a difference.
“We’re on the move. After this I want to say these things in Holyrood and in Westminster. I’m not stopping until things change.”
As well as working on a range of practical measures to address violence in some of Scotland’s poorest neighbourhoods and to support Scotland’s kinship carers, the Commission also highlights the need to close the gap between Scotland’s rich and poor, labelling the growing disparity an “outrage”. It also calls for a public debate on how to develop a fairer and more equal Scotland.
Notes to news desks:
Over the last two years the Commission has worked closely with a wide range of partners and a number of these including the Church of Scotland, Glasgow City Council, Just Fair, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Scotland Office, the Scottish Government and the Violence Reduction Unit will now take up some of the Commission’s work.
Photos from Saturday’s launch and a copy of the Commission’s findings are available on www.povertytruthcommission.org
For more information please contact Martin Johnstone, Poverty Truth Commission Secretary, on 0141 248 2905 or 07710 509 061 or email email@example.com
18 April 2011