Saturday, 7 May 2011

Time for the truth

AMONG the many recent reports of the work of the Poverty Truth Commission in Scotland has been an article in Third Force News, the voice of Scotland's voluntary 'third sector'.

Here are some excerpts:

After two years, the commission has created a report of its discoveries. Mindful that it could be seen as just another talking shop, the recommendations look to build on the evidence it has heard from people living in poverty over the last two years.

Because, it states, despite hundreds of other reports and government strategies, poverty continues to worsen in Scotland.

One recommendation is that civil servants could be sent to stay in some of country’s most deprived neighbourhoods to experience the reality of those living with little money.

The idea is that decision makers would be brought closer to poverty and its effect on communities in a fresh approach to tackling spiralling deprivation and the gap between rich and poor in the form of a new mentoring scheme.

Scottish Government workers would forge a direct relationship with those living at the sharp end of poverty, with hopes that they will spend time on the home turf of their project partners.

Commissioner Donna Barrowcliffe, a community worker from Ruchazie in Glasgow, called the process “revolutionary”.

She said: “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.”

The Rev Dr Martin Johnstone, secretary to the commission, said: “One of the ongoing things that people have said over and over again is that the real experts on understanding the issues of poverty are the people who experience it. The rest of us can be incredibly well-intentioned but much better policy will be made if we are drawing on the wisdom of those who are experiencing it.

“In so many walks of life we ask the experts. In this environment, what we say is that the experts are those who live in poverty.”

Read the whole article here.

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