Scottish Poverty Truth Commission will expose reality of deprivation

By staff writers
March 14, 2009

People from Glasgow will give their accounts of deprivation at Scotland’s first Poverty Truth Commission on 21 March, as it highlights the reality of those living on the edge in modern Britain.

The Commission will meet at Glasgow City Chambers and is due to be hosted by the Rt Rev David Lunan, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and will be attended by some of Scotland’s civic leaders and senior politicians.

The aim of the Poverty Truth Commission is to give people struggling against poverty an opportunity to have a say in the decisions that affect their lives. Issues to be addressed include youth violence, the demands of being a carer, in-work poverty, unemployment and the benefits trap. The Commission is inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-apartheid South Africa, where victims of the violent and cruel regime were given the opportunity of telling their stories.

Leaders at the Commission will hear the experiences of some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged citizens.

The Rev Martin Johnstone from the Church of Scotland Ministries Council, one of the organisers of the event, noted: “The question is how do you overcome poverty? The answer is to ask those who experience it, rather than those who only know it in their heads."

"Poverty can be overcome in Scotland – but only if we are prepared to take seriously the wisdom of those who really know about it,” he added.

Meanwhile, another Church of of Scotland body has demanded an increase in the level of redundancy pay for workers losing their jobs because of the credit crunch.

The Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the Kirk's Church and Society Council, wrote to every Scottish MP urging them to back Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle's Private Member's Bill debated in the House of Commons yesterday. Mr Hoyle is calling for improved statutory redundancy pay.

Mr Galloway said: "For the Church of Scotland this is not simply an issue of cash but of justice.

"We need to do all we can to stand by those who lose their jobs so that the struggles they and their families experience are minimised as much as possible."

Mr Galloway said it was crucial that as many MPs attend to stop the Bill being "talked out".

The current level of statutory redundancy pay is capped at £350 a week, regardless of an individual's salary. Campaigners claim this figure is now only worth half of the average pay because it hasn't increased with inflation.*

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