Thursday, 16 June 2011

New report shows extent of kinship care

FOR the first time the number of children in the UK being brought up by a relative instead of their parents has been revealed in a major study by Buttle UK and the University of Bristol.

The study, ‘Spotlight on Kinship Care’ is the first of its kind to state how many children are being looked after family members. Using data from the 2001 Census it shows that around 173,200 children were being raised by family members.

For the last two years the Poverty Truth Commission, which included Kinship Carers from some of Glasgow’s most disadvantaged areas, has been challenging the Scottish and UK Governments, Local Authorities, Health Boards and Kinship Carers to work together to improve the quality of life for this highly vulnerable group of children and young people. The Commission has worked hard to pass on the message that Kinship Carers should be around the table at the heart of the process, keeping it relevant and grounded in reality.

In the Herald on 16th June, 2011, the Poverty Truth Commission’s Secretary, Martin Johnstone, commented “This is seen as an ever-growing issue and I would expect the actual figure will be considerably larger when the 2011 census is taken into account. One of the really worrying things is that although the Scottish Government, the UK Government and the local authorities have all tried to do things to address the issues, not enough has been done collaboratively.”

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Listening to children on poverty

AS a society, we have stigmatised poverty to a point where nobody likes to admit they're poor - so says the man behind the BBC TV documentary programme Poor Kids, which has stirred up a debate about the subject across Scotland.

In his blog on the BBC website, Jezza Neumann writes:

By making 'Poor Kids' through the eyes of the children, we could uncover a tough subject through a section of society who rarely gets their say.

Before we even set about finding children, we drew up an extensive protocol on how we would operate with the children's best interests in mind.

I guess the true test of how well we succeeded was when the children watched the film and whether they saw it as an accurate representation of their lives, and they seemed to.

All too often in life children aren't given a voice or the chance to be heard. And all too often adults listen, but they don't really. I'm a dad, so I know, as I'm just as guilty.

Once we'd settled on which children to follow, it was a fascinating journey.

The most important part of the filming process was to gain a bond with the children. After a while children often open up to us because we are a grown-up figure who listens but never judges.

Read more here.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Concerns rise over fuel poverty

CENTRAL Scotland MSP John Wilson is concerned that more families will be forced into fuel poverty as a result of Scottish Power’s decision to increase gas and electricity prices.

Mr Wilson, who is Deputy Convener of the Scottish Parliament's Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, says that the estimated 19 per cent increase in gas and 10 per cent increase in electricity prices will hit poorest families the hardest and drive more Scots into fuel poverty.

The most recent Scottish Government figures, published in 2009, suggest that over three-quarters-of-a-million homes are in fuel poverty – where more than 10 per cent of the household income is used to heat the home. This figure has increase by around 50 per cent since 2002More here(Source: STV)

The Kirk's Church and Society Council first submitted a paper  (*PDF Adobe Acrobat file)  to the Scottish Fuel Poverty Forum in 2008, stating the concerns of the Church of Scotland.

Politicians also debated fuel efficiency and support for low-income families in the run up to the recent Scottish Parliamentary Elections. Video footage of the discussions can be seen here.

(Picture:  Friends of the Earth)

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

What kids feel about growing up poor

A NEW documentary called 'Poor Kids' is being shown on BBC One on 7 June at 22.35 BST. It can also be viewed for a while after then on the BBC iPlayer service. 

More than 3.5 million children live below the poverty line across Britain. This is one of the worst child poverty rates in the rich, industrialised world.

The programme looks behind the statistics towards the lives, voices and experiences of children and their families. It is powerful and moving, say those who have seen advance tapes. You can find out more here and reda some of the comments the kids are making.

Scotland's Poverty Truth Commission and its partners are committed to ensuring that people with influence and decision-making power hear directly from those living at the sharp end of poverty - and include them in the process of making change. That certainly has to include 'poor kids'.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Praise for Commission at 2011 Kirk Assembly

THE General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, meeting in Edinburgh last week, warmly welcomed a report on the work of the Poverty Truth Commission, commending its practical and people-oriented approach. 

Dr Alison Eliot, who was the Kirk's first woman moderator in 2004, and also a commissioner, has commented: "I’ve long been aware of the extra financial hurdles we place in the way of people in poverty – unknown to the comfortably off, with their easy access to credit. What the Poverty Truth Commission has brought home to me are the emotional hurdles people in poverty have to clear and the strength that can come from enabling good relationships to flourish."