The Poverty Truth Commission has highlighted the need for a radical cultural change if poverty in Scotland in particular, and Britain as a whole, is to be tackled effectively.
A major new report from civic and church groups, launched on Saturday 16 April 2011, 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 Poverty Truth Commission has brought together some of Scotland’s most senior civic leaders with people who have a direct experience of poverty.
Jim Wallace, former Deputy First Minister, speaking at the launch of the report in Glasgow City Chambers, 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,’ he declared.
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 Poverty Truth 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."
He continued: “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.
The Poverty and Truth Commission is supported by the Church of Scotland and Faith in Community Scotland.
More on the PTC here: http://www.povertytruthcommission.org/
The full reports of the Commission, published on 16 April, are available here: http://www.povertytruthcommission.org/index.php?id=7
More on the PTC from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/povertytruthcommission