A major report is calling on the Scottish Government to include people from the nation’s most deprived areas in shaping and delivering anti-poverty policy.
The plea from Scotland’s first-ever Poverty Truth Commission (PTC) follows two years of extensive consultation with some of Scotland’s civic leaders and people at the sharp end of poverty as they worked together to provide real solutions.
Other proposals include better support and care for children unable to live with their parents, and overcoming violence in local communities.
The Commission was set up in 2009, recognising that despite hundreds of charity reports and government strategies, poverty continues to worsen in Scotland.
Tomorrow (16 April 2011) at Glasgow City Chambers, leading figures including Jim Wallace, former Depute First Minister, Bob Winter, Glasgow’s Lord Provost, and Archbishop Mario Conti will launch the report in partnership with other commissioners whose lives are blighted by poverty.
They will also be announcing pledges to embed some of the recommendations into a variety of agencies.
The Scotland Office will involve people with a direct experience of poverty as it develops and implements its thinking about the Big Society in Scotland, while civil servants working for the Scottish Government in areas tackling poverty will pilot a mentoring scheme to have a direct relationship with someone experiencing it.
Jim Wallace, former Deputy First Minister, said his involvement with the commission had been “a revelation”: “Not least, I came to appreciate just how disempowered people can feel with experts, officials and politicians talk about their plight but without any real reference to the people they’re talking about.
“Through the commission I have become convinced that we are more likely to identify solutions to some deep-seated problems if politicians and officials involve those who experience the reality of poverty in their daily lives.
“That is the challenge to policy makers and those who deliver public services at every level of government.”
Commissioner Donna Barrowcliffe, a community worker from Ruchazie in Glasgow, called the process “revolutionary”: “We need to keep letting people in power know that it’s worth their while to listen to us.
“Because not only will our ideas on poverty be better than anything they come up with at their desks, but because we need to be recognised as equal human beings.”
Commissioners believe the implementation of their suggestions is “vital” if poverty is to be properly tackled.
The Poverty Truth Commission has been supported by the Church of Scotland and Faith in Community Scotland.
* More on Scotland's Poverty Truth Commission: http://www.povertytruthcommission.org/
* Ekklesia's Poverty Truth Commission Coverage: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/povertytruthcommission