Tuesday, 18 December 2012
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Recently Martin Johnstone, the secretary of the Poverty Truth Commission, was invited to visit Leeds to discuss the possibility of Leeds doing something similar to the Commission in that city. Andrew Grinnell from Leeds shares his thoughts about how the process could be used there:
The Poverty Truth Commission will continue to support those in Leeds to take up this piece of work.
Friday, 30 November 2012
There has been much to take away from the process:
- Learning, about how Government works and that civil servants are people and approachable;
- A reminder that society is made up of individuals and the policies made in Government impacts on those individuals;
- and how important it is not just to spend time behind a desk, but to broaden horizons by meeting with people directly.
*Names have been changed.
Thursday, 15 November 2012
Commissioners share their experiences of the Poverty Truth Commission with the Scottish Leaders Forum
Ghazala commented "The Scottish Leaders Forum was an exciting and inspiring event for both the PTC commissioners and the attending delegates. The delegates were interested and positive about our presentation. Many approached us at the end to invite us to their respective organisation to speak to their staff. It is crucial for those who are experiencing poverty to be acknowledged and hears. As Nothing About Us, Without Us, Is For Us."
The workshops led by our commissioners had great feedback and in a letter of thanks Sir Peter Housden, Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government, commented "Your workshop in particular was commended for the speakers’ amazingly powerful presentations. You completely captured the reality of community empowerment and co-production with lessons on how to engage those communities and get the best from people who already want to be the solution as well as from those who may previously have felt they had nothing to give."
Friday, 19 October 2012
Thursday, 18 October 2012
Monday, 15 October 2012
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Monday, 8 October 2012
Thursday, 4 October 2012
"The fundamental problem with this kind of public discourse is in the language. The language is full of assumptions. The language assumes all sorts of things about the reader. It assumes the reader is not only literate but has a high level of literacy. It assumes only those with a firm grasp of the subject will be interested in reading about it. Indeed the language itself makes a statement about the writers and the spheres they inhabit. Spheres, which in reality, have no real meaning to the public and so no real meaning to the discourse. I propose that under such conditions the discourse could be more appropriately termed ‘private’. How can I make that assumption you may ask? It’s actually very simple. I’m watching and listening to it all the time.
Language developed naturally through evolution to bring humans together so that they could solve common problems collaboratively through verbal communication. In today’s world however, I fear those who have been fortunate enough to receive a thorough education have unwittingly allowed something as common as language to become a barrier to a more open, inclusive and essentially democratic public conversation. Lucky for me I’m not intimidated by office jargon, statistical data, historical in-jokes or acronyms, for if that were the case…I may have left this conversation 10 years ago…aged 18.
I tend to pop up around tables I’m not really supposed to be at. You know the tables I’m referring to surely…the ones at which my life is usually being discussed by experts and professionals? I sense their dis-ease as they fumble over this new phenomenon for which there is no protocol or precedent. The political curve ball that is: If decisions are being made about my life and my community around this table….then this is a table I’d quite like a seat at. (I’m also prepared to stand if there aren’t any spare, which has often been the case.) If you were re-mortgaging your home, wouldn’t you like to be at that meeting?
Let me cut to the chase. If we want to challenge apathy in our society then we must first challenge our own activism. We must ask ourselves why people are not responding to our call to action. Basic educational principle dictates that if participants are not responding to the material it is for one of 3 reasons:
1. The material did not originate from them and so they cannot relate to it
2. The context of the workshop was ill conceived either in form, content or location
3. The facilitator hasn’t developed a deep enough understanding of the learning needs and social aspirations of the participants and so cannot engage them in a meaningful way
That’s it in a nutshell as far as I’m concerned. We as ‘activists’ have wandered off up a hill for a private chat and at the mountain top we feel frustration that nobody has followed us. Of course we only looked to see who was there once we reached the top instead of looking over our shoulder occasionally throughout the journey to see who else was coming along and indeed…if they were ok. We as ‘activists’ are falling into the same trap as the politicians we criticise. We are getting lost in the language of our own little world.
Many years ago I attended a discussion/debate about the aluminium industry and it’s plundering of India. Personally, I wasn’t that interested in the subject. Environmentalism is a concern afforded to those free from the day to day constraints of poverty. My reason for going was simply to survey the scene. I wanted to know how these types of ‘open’ meetings operate. Who attends them? How are they formatted? Are they merely informative or do people make a pledge to act on what they have just learned? Naturally I became engaged once the talk began.
I’ve always been intrigued by the word ‘Globalisation’ and how it has been cunningly devised as a synonym for Hostile Corporate Takeover of Planet Earth. At the end of the talk the academic took questions. Once again I saw this as an opportunity to observe. I was frustrated by the lack of depth or critical thought in many of the questions but remained hopeful that the dialogue would eventually transcend the subject itself and somehow become grounded in a more tangible reality. It fell to me and so I raised my hand. “This is all very interesting and it’s really made me think more about the environment and how I’m not an observer of it, but instead part of it. My question is…how do I take this information and make my community care?”.
The academic looked shocked. He clearly hadn’t thought about the implications of his information. His soul task was to amass it and communicate it to a small group of like-minded people as opposed to relating it. He is what is known as a ‘repeater’. A well-meaning, unconscious, pseudo educator. His purpose is not to think critically about the information but simply to gather it and then relay it to other repeaters. He is a hapless victim of an outmoded education system and as a Professor in his field….he has clearly been thoroughly remunerated for his compliance. And so I left the talking shop a little more enlightened.
You may think me scathing. I make no apology for it. My language is laced with the wrath of a generation sick to molars of being misrepresented at best if even listened to at all. I have no constituency and no line to toe. I earn no salary and am answerable only to the call of my own conscience. I am dangerous. And I am not alone.
I hope the crux of this article is clear. There is no real meaningful future for the people of Scotland if their participation in the conversation about their own lives is tokenistic. The most well-meaning activists have to face some hard facts. All discussion and debate is rendered meaningless when plagued by the same subtle elitisms that hold the status quo in place. I don’t have a degree in Education but I feel I have a certain degree of understanding where such matters are concerned and so this is the time I have chosen to speak. At this moment I make my move. And there are people like me everywhere and everywhere they are getting more organised in preparation for any event. Please let the Scottish spring blossom in the spirit of an awakening. Some on these shores are naïve enough to think Revolutions only happen on the pages of a University reference book or on the 24 hour news cycle. That’s the blind side that gets them thrown out of office, literally! For now, we only want you to listen to our ideas. This is our country too and although we have no professional titles we are in fact the leaders of our Communities, the articulators of the message the majority can easily understand. We have something you lack….but we’re willing to share it with you unconditionally.
How are we to tackle the scourge of poverty at its source when we are not willing to hear the testimony of those who face it day by day? How is it possible to challenge the tired stereotypes surrounding the poor if the poor aren’t given the chance to speak for themselves and be heard? Representative democracy has had its day my friends. It became a breeding ground for career politics and special interests. The disconnects between the public and the policies that affect them are structural and require a deep, psychic attitudinal change on mass scale, lest we remain at the behest of our overly romanticised history and the old ideas that led us to be dominated by Empire. To achieve this we’re going to need to have a meeting about getting some bigger tables for the kind of meetings we really need to be having.
As we draw ever closer to the referendum we must ask ourselves: What kind of Scotland do we want to be? We are on the cusp an incredible adventure. We can see the mountain on the horizon. And so as we plot our journey this time round…perhaps we should think about who is coming along with us. It’s not the economy stupid…it’s the language."
Monday, 24 September 2012
Friday, 21 September 2012
world of trouble, full of love
hop, skip and a jump
Tuesday, 18 September 2012
The Poverty Truth Commission are looking for a part time Researcher to join our small staff team.
The role is an exciting opportunity to pro-actively assist the Poverty Truth Commission directly involve people in poverty in decision-making to develop effective working partnerships with the Scottish Government, local authorities, third sector organisation and other agencies. The part time role is for 14 hours a week and will be paid at £24,058 p.a (pro-rata).
As a Development Worker (Researcher), the successful candidate will work with people experiencing poverty to ensure that their wisdom informs policy and practice in the struggle to overcome poverty.
For more information about the role and to download a copy of the job description and application form visit the Faith in Community Scotland Website.
Tuesday, 11 September 2012
THIS year's STV Appeal has raised just under £2,000,000 for children living in poverty in Scotland, half of which was raised through donations with the remainder being match funded by the Scottish Government.
The Appeal hopes to expose Scotland’s secret shame, raise awareness, challenge stereotypes and draw attention to the real extent of child poverty in Scotland. They hope to give Scotland's vulnerable children a voice. You can find out more about the appeal at their website.
The Poverty Truth Commission believes that poverty will never be truly addressed until those who experience it first-hand are at the heart of the process and that includes children. We have worked with a number of children about their experiences of poverty. The video below called 'My name is Isha' gives an insight into one girl's thoughts about poverty.
Monday, 3 September 2012
IN the past the Poverty Truth Commission have used video as a way of helping people to share their stories. One example of this is 'Hopes and Dreams and Girlie Schemes' in which Gemma, Jennifer, Josie and Nicola from Ruchazie, Glasgow, share their hopes and dreams for the future.
This film was first shown as part of the Poverty Truth Commission Closing Gathering in Glasgow April 2011 along with a number of others. Visit our website to view more videos created by Commissioners.
Thursday, 30 August 2012
The website, as well as sharing information about the Commission, also has links to media coverage, articles and reports, stories about the realities of poverty today and videos which have been made by commissioners.
Tuesday, 28 August 2012
The tour will pass through Scotland at the beginning of October and will be in the Scottish Borders on 1st October, Glasgow on 2nd October, Edinburgh on 3rd October, St Andrews on 4th October and Inverness on 5th October. For more information about the tour visit the Church Action on Poverty website or facebook page.
While the bus will be in Glasgow on 2nd October we hope that some Commissioners from the Poverty Truth Commission will be aboard the bus to talk with other about the impact of spending cuts on their community.
Thursday, 23 August 2012
In the findings of the Poverty Truth Commission, published last year, Glasgow City Council pledged, in collaboration with other partners, 'to involved people in poverty directly in the development of community planning within the city'. In our recent 'One year On' report we asked the Council to share their experiences since the findings were published as they have sought to take on specific elements of our legacy. They commented "The Council has been seeking to broaden and deepen the involvement of people with direct experience of poverty through community membership on Local Community Planning Partnership Boards and by working with management committee members who are involved with locally funded projects. A Tackling Poverty Working Group has been established to develop an integrated strategy across the membership of the community planning partners. Meetings of the group have included people living directly with the impact of poverty through the Poverty Alliance and the Poverty Truth Commission."
The Poverty Truth Commission are very pleased to be continuing to work with Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, including Glasgow City Council through the Tackling Poverty Working Group to help them to continue to involve people in poverty directly in Community Planning in Glasgow.
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
Kat Watts, Administrator for the Poverty Truth Commission and the person leading on this area of work commented 'Social Media is a part of everyday life for many people in our society and is a great tool to share information about the Commission and it's way of working. It also gives us the chance to provide a place for people to share their experiences of poverty which we feel need to be heard.
One area which the Poverty Truth Commission highlighted as an important issue to be explored is the stereotyping and negative reporting by traditional media about people and communities in poverty. Social media gives people a chance to share their experiences in their own words and in turn gives others the chance to hear of the situations which many find themselves in. These stories are full of hope, expectation and resolve to improve situations. It is only in sharing and listening to each other's stories that we will be able work together to make a lasting change in our society.'
Thursday, 16 August 2012
ATD Fourth World is a human rights-based, anti-poverty organisation with more than 40 years' experience of engaging with individuals and institutions to find solutions to eradicate extreme poverty in the UK. Working in partnership with people affected by poverty, ATD Fourth World has, since 1968, concentrated its efforts on supporting families and influencing policy through work at Frimhurst Family House in Surrey and our National Centre in London.
Their aim is for Giving Poverty a Voice to empower and encourage people to stand up and be heard by using issue-based discussion forums, capacity-building workshops and examinations of the different opportunities and avenues to participate in the democratic process.
The Poverty Truth Commission continues to call for the involvement of people living in poverty in shaping and delivering anti-poverty policy and challenge people who are struggling to overcome poverty to share their struggle and to come together with others to work for lasting change and look forward to seeing the development of ATD Fourth World's project in London.
Thursday, 9 August 2012
|Kinship Carers pose with councillors|
Representatives from Glasgow Social Work, the Scottish Commission for Children and Young People and Bob Winter (Commissioner and former Lord Provost of Glasgow) also attended. The group were congratulated on their work at successfully raising the Kinship issue on the political agenda, and also recognised the strengths that come from working together with other agencies such as Social Work rather than against them. There was much interesting and useful discussion on whether new legislation is necessary to achieve adequate support for Kinship Carers, what the appropriate level of assessment for Kinship Care placements would be, how we can ensure that support services follow the child (rather than the carer) from the earliest possible stage, and what kind of financial backing will be required from Scottish Government to make adequate support by Local Authorities possible.
Overall we concluded that the jury is still out on whether primary legislation is needed, but that we are all very clear that legislation will only ever be a small part of the 'game change' necessary towards supporting Kinship Care placements.
We look forward to continuing to bring the Scottish Government together with Kinship Carers and other stakeholders to address this important issue.
Tuesday, 7 August 2012
Commissioner Maureen McGinn commented "We had been invited to participate because civil servants are interested in knowing about our way of working. Although this was the last slot in a long day, there was a warm welcome and lively participation in the opening exercise, designed to break down barriers and formal roles. Carol and I spoke about our experiences as members of the PTC, answered questions and discussed ways to go beyond normal outreach and consultation processes so that people living in poverty are involved fully in developing policy solutions and their voices are heard. The invitation to be part of this training demonstrates the Scottish Government's support for the PTC. If invited to do this again, the main change Carol and I would make would be to show a short extract of the PTC opening event, so that even more commissioners can be heard."
We are very excited to have this opportunity to share our model with those from the Scottish Government and will continue to offer our story to their training programme.
Thursday, 2 August 2012
A major area of work which we will develop over the next year is to continue and expand our support for organisations that would like to work in a similar way to the Poverty Truth Commission.
Monday, 30 July 2012
As the campaign website for Kinship Care groups across Glasgow it includes sections where you can find out about the plight of both Kinship Carers and the vulnerable children in their care, read the stories of Kinship Carers and find out information on their long running campaign and demands for equality.
You can view this new website at glasgowkinshipjustice.wordpress.com.
Thursday, 26 July 2012
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
THROUGHOUT the life of the Poverty Truth Commission we have been greatly supported by many organisations including Buttle UK.
Buttle UK gives grants to children and young people growing up without the basics we take for granted - be that something for their home, help with school, supporting young people through study or training, or helping them to access the skills and equipment necessary to get into work. Their grant programmes include a Small Grants Programme, a School Fees Programme, a Student and Trainees Programme and an access to the future programme offering slexible funding for hard to reach young people (aged 18 to 25) to support their return to employment, education or training.
In Scotland their work is coordinated by Anne Marie Peffer, Casework Manager for the Scotland Office. Anne Marie has been a Commissioner involved in the Poverty Truth Commission since it’s opening event at the City Chambers in March 2009.
Anne Marie commented "being involved in the Poverty Truth Commission has been a wonderful experience and balances really well with the grant making work Buttle UK does. It makes such good common sense to work with people experiencing poverty, to develop strategies to attack the causes of poverty and it has been a privilege to be involved with the real experts. Through its grant-making, Buttle UK has built up an extensive bank of knowledge about the problems faced by people at the harsh edge of poverty and it has been very satisfying to put the facts and figures together with some of those people to inform planning and try and devise solutions. For me, this is a very sensible way to work, and I look forward to a long and productive partnership."
Monday, 16 July 2012
Now that the original members of the Commission feel that there is still future work to be done the Poverty Truth Commission will now become a project under the umbrealla organisation of Faith in Community Scotland. Many of the commission members will form a steering group and one of the commissioners, Ghazala Hakeem, will become a trustee on the Faith in Community Scotland Board.
The Poverty Truth Commission has appreciated the support of Faith in Community Scotland and is looking forward to working more closely with the organisation.
Thursday, 12 July 2012
The report looks back at the work that has been done over the last year since the 'Findings of the Commission' were published and it's closing gathering, which took place in April 2011 and also sets out it's plans for the future.
Due to the timing of the closing gathering, shortly before the Scottish Government elections, the Commission received much attention and accolades across politics and the media. Ron Ferguson from the Herald, commented "The PTC report has not come up with any magic solutions, although it has made proposals about better support for children unable to live with their parents, and overcoming violence in local communities. At its heart, though, is a conviction that the top-down solutions prepared by people with no direct experience of poverty are fundamentally flawed. The report argues that the real experts on poverty are not highly-paid consultants, but those who experience poverty."
Within the 'Findings' a number of organisations, including the Scottish Government, the UK Government, Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector, made legacy pledges, agreeing to take forward specific elements of the Commission's work in their own spheres of responsibility. Over the last year Commission members have continued to work closely with these organisations to make sure that these pledges are delivered effectively. Each organisation was invited to share their experiences of the past year and as a result a major part of the 'One Year On' report features paragraphs from these organisations.
The report also sets out the Commission's plans for the future. The original members of the Commission have decided that there is future work still to be done - albeit with a different focus and direction. Over the next few weeks we will feature on this blog the different strands of work which will make up this future work.
To read the report, and other reports and article about the Poverty Truth Commission, please visit our website.
Monday, 9 July 2012
Speaking alongside First Minister Alex Salmond, Sir Tom Hunter and STV Chief Executive Rob Woodward, Darren spoke of his own life of struggle but also about what he has helped to achieve through the work of Volition – the music-based project he has developed in Govan.
At the heart of his message was the fact that the great and good can be determined to eradicate poverty but they will not succeed until those who have direct experience of it are able to be part of the solution and not blamed for the problem. It is changing the way that we do things, and not charity, which will bring about real change.
Friday, 6 July 2012
In the article they share the stories of the struggles that they face in being Kinship Carers. Anne commented "I have two children who have got learning difficulties. In 2005, I took care of my daughters eldest daughter, who had just turned five and was two weeks into school. We ticked along fine and I was still working as a university lecturer. But in 2006, I knew the situation at my sons house also wasn't great and it got to the point where I got a phone call to go down there. That year I got the care of his two children. I was promised all kinds of support and help and initially that was there but I was still hanging on to my job by a thread. Very soon after that I decided I had to give up my work."
On the same day that this article was published the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council Convenor wrote on her blog in response to the statistic recently reported that "as many as two in five kinship carers are sacrificing their own health by putting off medical treatment because they are looking after someone full time". She challenged Churches to support Kinship Carers in their communities as reports.
Rev. Sally Foster-Fulton commented "What can we do for the more than 650,000 kinship carers in Scotland who are at risk? They are the embodiment of the values we as a faith community uphold - selflessness, love, and consistent compassion. They deserve not only our respect, but our active and practical support. The Church of Scotland is in a prime position to offer assistance on the ground - volunteers offering to step in so carers can attend appointments or providing additional support for families when a carer is unwell. We can be pastorally being attuned to the struggles they daily encounter and we can be advocates for more support and funding from the statutory providers at the centre. Kinship carers save the government millions of pounds, but more importantly, they give the gift of love and dignity. Because of their care, people are given the opportunity to stay at home and be as independent as they can for as long as they can."
The Poverty Truth Commission recognise the massive contribution which kinship carers are making to the quality of life for children in their care and challenge the Scottish and UK Governments, local authorities, heath boards and kinship carers to work together to improve the quality of life for this highly vulnerable group of children and young people.
Photograph Credit: Taken from http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/real-life/2012/06/22/carers-tell-of-the-challenges-sacrifices-rewards-that-come-with-looking-after-relatives-children-86908-23899314/