Monday, 18 April 2011

Nothing About Us, Without Us, Is for Us

Further to the letter from Rev Dr Martin Johnstone, I attended the Poverty Truth Commission Hustings on Monday 18 April. This took place two days after the Closing Gathering of the Poverty Truth Commission and provided the chance for candidates to respond to some of the key challenges from the Commission's findings. The experiences of people living with poverty at the Gathering highlighted the day to day struggles of family life. The emerging issues described were linked to Violence, Kinship Care and Stereotypes.

"Legal restrictions between carers are often unfair and restrict access to much needed support"

Through the powerful testimonials, I have become more aware of the massive contribution which kinship carers are making to the quality of the lives of children in their care. Governments, local authorities, health boards and Kinship carers have to work together to improve the quality of life for this highly vulnerable group of children and young people.

"People want to be proud of their communities"

It is clear from the frequent use of terms such as benefit cheats or scroungers to describe poor people, there is negative reporting of people from poorer neighbourhoods and this makes people feel hopeless and ashamed of where they live. The public need to challenge biased reporting and the media has to establish better links with community groups. I support the need for people with direct experience of poverty to be advisers to politicians and local media networks are needed to promote positive images.

Overcoming violence

I was interested to find that an Alternative to Violence working group has explored topics such as domestic violence, early intervention, gang culture and community disempowerment. We need to challenge local government and the police to move beyond processes of consultation and community engagement. 

There is an opportunity to make use of common good funds or neighbourhood budgets under community control and enable people to develop solutions to violence.

Green politicians have a commitment to work with people living in poverty to influence and shape anti-poverty policy. We believe it is vital to ensure that budgets are “poverty-proofed” so that financial decisions do not unfairly affect people living on low incomes.

Public bodies will be required to reduce the gap between rich and poor as a core aim of their policy and financial decision making. Monitoring is proposed for the delivery of a living wage policy and gender inequality in public sector pay, and to uprate the living wage for all public sector employees annually. We will also actively encourage living wage agreements in the private and voluntary sector, including through government procurement guidelines.

The Poverty Truth Commission is sponsored by the Church of Scotland Priority Areas and Faith in Community Scotland in cooperation with grass roots organisations throughout the country. Further information is available at:  

Useful Links:
Photo of staff from the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office
Church Votes -


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