Thursday, 19 August 2010

Poverty Truth Commission article for Church Action on Poverty Newsletter

Scotland’s Poverty Truth Commission brings together two groups of people: those who know and understand the struggle against poverty in their lives and those who have the power and influence to change Scotland for the better.

On 21st March 2009 in front of an invited audience of 400, people who live with the reality and consequences of poverty on a daily basis testified to their lives. Using dance, drama, poetry, rap, stories and animation, the testifiers vividly told of the struggles they have faced and described their hopes for the future and their resolve to work together to overcome poverty. A clear message was put across, “We are part of the solution, not part of the problem. Nothing about us, without us, is for us.”

At the same event the Commissioners, from politics, the media, academia and faith communities, listened and responded to what they heard, saying that henceforth they would want to work together as a single group in order that policy changes might be informed by the combined wisdom of both groups.

The Commission has been meeting regularly since March 2009, and is specifically looking at the areas of Kinship Carers, Positive Alternatives to Violence and the Media.

Scott MacKinnon is 17 and speaks about his involvement with the Poverty Truth Commission, and how a meeting with Community Police Officers has led to the organising of a football tournament.

“So many people complain. The Police should do this, the government should do that. I’ve said some of these things before too; I now think slightly differently.

Yes, I agree that the police and the government have their duties and responsibilities. I understand that it is their job do to things which everyday people cannot.

But what about our ideas and opinions? Isn’t it even more our duty and responsibility to ensure that we do our part for society rather than depending on and expecting others to do it for us.

Hearing about the Poverty Truth Commission kicked me up the backside and made me re-evaluate. When I got involved I was really happy to be a part of something that changed my views on things. I saw it as my opportunity to help others realise that they too can help society in many ways.

All my life I have been brought up in a environment that has gang fighting all around. All my friends have just the same. People have fights and disputes with each other simply because they live in different areas.

Currently, through the Poverty Truth Commission myself and others are organising a football tournament which will bring young people together from these different areas. We are working together with the Police, who have supported and encouraged our ideas and the police will also take part in the football tournament.

The idea behind this is to try and break down the barriers not only with people from different areas but also to break the barrier between young people and the Police and to encourage respect on all sides.

I am very happy to be doing this work and I will never stop trying to do things like this that will help the community.

A lot of people say that one person cannot make a big difference and to a certain extent they are right but a lot of those people could make a team and a team can make a big difference. Even if every single person done only one thing to help society, that is a lot of help and it would make a difference.”