Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Here we are again, Christmas round the corner

One of our new Commissioners, Fred, shares some of his thoughts about Christmas...
"Here we are again, Christmas round the corner, kids holidays looming, demanding more by each advert that they see. So where does this leave many families. Some are organised and all set for the big day, however these days there are sadly more who are not.

The working family face the same challenges faced by the unemployed and low income alike.

These problems escalate in number of different ways, struggling to perhaps pay the mortgage/rent, we choose to perhaps delay December's payment, gives us the money to buy the kids there toys.

How much is required, how long is a piece of string.

If we look at this in deeper scenarios it can paint a dark time ahead. The parents argue over money, leading to anything from the kids being upset to see this and feeling guilty and stressed, to violence or even broken relationship. If these kids are of teenage years, they may choose to spend time outside with similar kids in same position, this can lead to these same kids being involved in anything to “get away from it all”  Alcohol? Drugs?

The low income families suffer severely at these times, faced with a lot if difficult choices, just to pay for one day of celebration. Why? Christmas is so now commercialised it's not Christmas, it's a time of struggle which can lead into the preceding months of January through to March or beyond just to find a balance again in the home.

Perhaps we really should be teaching our children the true meaning of Christmas, a poor family arrive at a stable, Jesus was born, three wise men give one gift each, and it is this event that we should be celebrating, then our children won't be faced with the same financial problem caused by us and the commercialised  Christmas.."

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

'What if we were to do this in my city?'

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:

"I first heard about the Poverty Truth Commission in a meeting for a charity I used to be a trustee for. Just as we were about to start the meeting a fellow trustee thrust a copy of the commission’s findings into my hand and one quick glance through got me asking 'what if we were to do this in my city of Leeds?' There was something about the approach that caught my imagination. By valuing the opinions of those who were directly facing poverty it enabled them to articulate the issues as they saw them and built dignity as they testified as to how this had impacted their lives. Whilst at the same time it allowed decision makers the opportunity to look at the issues from a different angle, to build relationship with people who were affected by their decisions and to collaborate with them on effective responses to poverty.

From my experiences of Leeds it seemed like an appropriate way of discovering a meaningful response to the wide levels of inequality within the city. I’ve listened to people in my neighbourhood who have many opinions about how things need to change but struggle to know how to make them heard. I’ve listened to council workers and officials who desperately want to increase the positive impacts they are having upon the city but don’t quite know how best to work with local people. I’ve seen how businesses within the city want to bring positive and lasting change not only for the good of their business but also for the cities residents. Our hope in Leeds that as we move from asking ‘what if we did a poverty truth commission’ to ‘what are we discovering about poverty through this challenge’ is that as people from all sectors encounter one another, deep and lasting responses to the poverty we face may be found."

The Poverty Truth Commission will continue to support those in Leeds to take up this piece of work.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Members of our Mentoring Scheme meet to review the pilot

Earlier this week people who have experience of living in poverty and civil servants from policy areas that deal with Community Justice, Public Health and Public Service reform met together to evaluate and review a mentoring scheme which they have been involved in over the last 6 months.

People from both groups were paired together and have been meeting together regularly both in local communities and in Government offices to talk about each other’s lives and work. The meeting this week was a chance to reflect on the time that those involved took out of their busy lives to get to know more about each other. The initial aim for the scheme was that the pairings would meet 6 times over 6 months which was difficult in practise but was a good aim.

The group thought that the process had helped them to get to know someone new and that real relationships developed with real people which otherwise they might not have met. The process purposely did not have a set agenda, only a sheet of suggestions of where to meet and ideas that they could consider. This worked well for those involved, allowing them to find a way of meeting which suited them. There was also a consensus that it was good to meet each other in their ‘home’ patch which also gave those involved a chance to meet other people from communities or colleagues. Being introduced to folk by local people made a big difference to the relationships formed.

Liz* and Julie* were both very nervous in the lead up to their first meeting however once they got to know one another this changed. In their meetings they went on walkabout tours, visited Bridging the Gap (a drop in which Liz is involved in), visited the Government offices in Edinburgh and met with the Ministers private secretary and local community police. Liz was challenged by the way Julie worked and meeting with her regularly helped her feel much more confident and connected to the political process. Julie very much appreciated the opportunity to get to know people as herself rather than as a civil servant and welcomed the chance to learn by getting a feel for things rather than through research.

There has been much to take away from the process:
  • Learning, about how Government works and that civil servants are people and approachable;
  • Confidence;
  • 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.
Isabelle* from the PTC, who was involved in the scheme, said “I got involved as the idea of it sounded good. I liked the chance to work with civil servants rather than MSPs; the people that write the policies and don’t just want your vote. Being involved has helped me to meet someone new that has a different outlook on life and made me think more about the pressures civil servants go through. I hope to continue friendship we have formed.”

A number of recommendations were made and it is hoped that another group of people will undertake the scheme in the New Year.

*Names have been changed.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Commissioners share their experiences of the Poverty Truth Commission with the Scottish Leaders Forum

It was heartening that the Scottish Leaders Forum decided to devote one of its conferences to "Supporting resilient communities" and the Poverty Truth Commission were very happy to be invited to be a part of the event.  The audience comprised of chief executives from local government, top civil servants and leaders of major charities and government agencies.  Over two workshops we addressed some 50 delegates stimulating lively discussion at each session.

Commissioner Anne Marie Peffer, from Buttle UK, spoke with great panache and humour introducing the work of of the Poverty Truth Commission, highlighting achievements and future challenges in work with the media, reducing crime, kinship care and empowering people in poverty to get into direct discussion with politicians, top officials and policy makers. Fellow commissioner Jean Forrester moved the workshops with her personal account of being a kinship carer and the work she is doing to obtain proper recognition for the job they do. Another commissioner, Ghazala Hakeem, spoke about her work on behalf of the Commission, how it had developed her confidence all round and especially in her ability to influence change. Finally commissioner Bob Winter, former Lord Provost of Glasgow City Council, wound up by linking what had been said to the wider subject of the conference. Bob commented "It was clear from questions discussion and comments after the workshop that we had made a considerable impact." 
About her experiences of being a part of the event Anne Marie commented "it was a real pleasure to work with colleagues Bob, Ghazala and Jean again.  On this occasion quite a few of the audience had actually heard of the Poverty Truth Commission, but had not experienced the powerful presentations such as those made by Jean and Ghazala. Once again, the "truth" about poverty made a big impact and people were clearly moved.  Discussion was to the point and constructive.  I am always surprised at the number of service providers who have never considered involving service users in the planning of those services and was glad to note that a number of those present will now be reconsidering their strategy."

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

They Should Listen To Us

This film was created for Includem's staff conference in September 2012 as part of their commitment to listening to young people and incorporating their views into the provision of our service.
The film allows young people from Glasgow to share what would make their life better.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Giving Poverty a Voice - ATD Fourth World

ATD Fourth World is an organisation based in London which works in a similar way to the Poverty Truth Commission. We've asked them to share with us a little about their newest project 'Giving Poverty a Voice'.
"ATD Fourth World constantly strives to develop the potential of people experiencing long-term poverty and enable them to participate fully in the life of their community and society at large. Over the years, we have run various projects that have supported people to get involved, have their voices heard and have a say in the decisions that affect them.

The Voices for a Change project, for example, promoted participation by means of training people with experience of poverty to conduct peer research about what support was needed to move out of poverty in London. One of the recommendations coming out of the research in 2008 was to “... promote opportunities for the participation of people living in poverty to influence policy and practice”. 

Unfortunately, these opportunities are still too few and far between, which led us to act on this recommendation ourselves by developing the Giving Poverty a Voice project that was officially launched on 25 September.

The project is open to various London-based organisations, including ATD Fourth World, and the aim is to gradually build a network of grassroots participants with experience of poverty that can act as a recognised stakeholder at in local and regional decision making.

Giving Poverty a Voice will provide people with the training, opportunities and support necessary to understand the broader context linked to the issues that they face in daily life. We want to encourage participants to speak out about their experiences of poverty and inequality so that better decisions are made for them, their families and local communities.

Our experience of working alongside people in their struggle to overcome the barriers that poverty can cause has made us aware of the tools people need in order to feel confident in speaking out. As one participant pointed out, “It’s all about understanding things that otherwise go over your head.”

One aspect of the project will be capacity-building workshops, which will enable people to gain confidence in a range of skills, such as public speaking, and help participants understand how being a confident communicator can help make one's voice heard.

The project will also invite expert speakers to meetings to share their understanding of the issues as well as the processes and structures of local and regional decision making. As a result, participants will be better informed, more confident and more able to take their voice to the right platforms.

Over the summer, ATD Fourth World worked hard to talk to as many people as possible to get a better understanding of the issues that people are interested in exploring or challenging. Common themes arising from these discussions included rights and responsibilities, family life, public attitudes and housing. It is these topics, and others besides, which Giving Poverty a Voice will tackle over the next three years and it is the participants who will choose their own priority issues.

For more information on the Giving Poverty a Voice project, contact givingpovertyavoice@atd-uk.org  

A blog linked to the project can be found at http://givingpovertyavoice.wordpress.com/"

You can also follow ATD Fourth World on Facebook.

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Poverty Truth Commission is featured on the new Poverty and Social Exclusion Website

The Poverty Truth Commission have been featured on the new Poverty and Social Exclusion Website which reports research into poverty and social exclusion, both in the UK and internationally.
It gives facts and figures on a wide range of aspects of material and social deprivation and looks at the impact poverty has on people’s lives, prospects and well-being. It provides evidence as to the underlying causes of poverty and the key events in people’s lives that can leave them vulnerable to poverty. It tracks and assesses the impact of current policies on the poor.
The work of the Poverty Truth Commission has been included in the 'Living in Poverty' section of the website under the heading of Community Experiences. The page includes a number of the videos created by the Commission since it began in 2009.
Visit the website to find out more.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

The United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty will take place on Wednesday 17th October.
The day is being marked by an event in Glasgow's George Square between 12pm and 1pm. The event will include stories and songs by choirs, rappers, poets and musicians. Soup will also be available.
To find out more about the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty visit the United Nations Website

Monday, 8 October 2012

The Poverty Truth Commission is now on Twitter

The Poverty Truth Commission are now on Twitter. You can follow us at https://twitter.com/PTCScotland.
You can also keep up to date with the work of the Poverty Truth Commission at our Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/PovertyTruthCommission.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Future of Scotland? It's all in the Language

Commissioner Darren McGarvey, also know as Loki, Scotland’s most well known Hip Hop artist and founder of Volition, has been asked to add his comments to the debate on the Future of Scotland and what he wants it to look like and his blog below has recently been featured on the Future of Scotland website.

"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 na├»ve 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

The Scottish Governments Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill

Over the last few weeks a number of our commissioners have been involved in responding to the Scottish Government’s consultation on its proposed Community Empowerment & Renewal Bill.

·         On the 12th September Martin Johnstone attended the first meeting of the Bill’s Reference Group (which the Poverty Truth Commission has been invited to be a member of) along with 40 plus other folks. It was an interesting couple of hours with a lot of enthusiasm expressed for some of the aspirations expressed in the consultation. Martin sought to highlight the Commission’s enthusiasm for Participatory Budgeting and to emphasise that whilst talk about who owns buildings is interesting we all need to remember that it is people, not buildings, which are our greatest asset.

·         On the 15th September, Martin & Donna Barrowcliffe attended a meeting hosted by Glasgow City Council to help local groups to respond to the consultation. Another interesting event with strong support for more effective community empowerment and a deep sense that it was time for governments to move beyond good words into genuine actions which show that they believe that local people have the wisdom that pass others by.

The Commission will be submitting its response to the consultation over the coming week, drawn from the experience of some of our Commissioners. You can view the consultation documentation on their website and the consultation period runs until 26th September 2012

Friday, 21 September 2012

Groups linked to the Poverty Truth Commission involved in GRAND Week 2012

Last week in Glasgow it was GRAND (Getting Real about Alcohol 'N' Drugs) Week, which is a city-wide initiative that enables communities to develop local responses to alcohol and drug issues.  A number of groups with links to the Poverty Truth Commission were involved.
Faith in Community Scotland's Faith in Throughcare project launched, as part of the week, their book 'In My Place' which contains a collection of stories and poems written by those involve in the project at their drop in centre, The Place in Possilpark. The project works through faith communities in Scotland’s poorest neighbourhood’s to support people who are being released from prison to settle into more fulfilling lives in their families and communities. Copies of the book are available from the Faith in Community Scotland office by calling 0141 221 4576.
One poem included in the book is called Doors of Hope.
The door opened and there I was
Back in the world of confusion
And fear not knowing what lies
Ahead but to be honest if I knew
What I was facing I would try
Not to open the door of despair 
And stay in my own world of what I thought was Safety.
The punishment never ends.
Another book of creative work launched as part of GRAND Week was written by Kinship Carers from Glasgow with the help of the Village Storytelling Centre in Glasgow. The book includes stories of how drug and alcohol misuse can affect families written by some amazingly strong and resourceful people who have some extremely moving stories to tell. One poem from the book is a haiku.
five kids in my care
world of trouble, full of love
hop, skip and a jump
Copies of the book are available at the Village Storytelling Centre.


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Job Opportunity for a Researcher with The Poverty Truth Commission

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.
“Nothing About Us Without Us Is For Us”

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

STV Appeal 2012 raises just under £2,000,000

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

Hopes and Dreams and Girlie Schemes

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 Poverty Truth Commission website has information about the story of the Commission as well as its plans for the future. The website has just been updated to reflect the new direction our work has taken over the last few months.

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.
Visit the website at www.povertytruthcommission.org.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Tax Justice Bus Tour 2012

THIS Autumn Church Action on Poverty and Christian Aid are joining forces to take the campaign for Tax Justice on the road, with a 7 week Tax Justice Bus Tour. Their bright red London bus will be touring the length and breadth of Britain and Ireland, to promote the simple message: It's time for Tax Justice for the poorest communities at home and globally. In an age of austerity and spending cuts, both organisations believe that tax avoidance is morally unacceptable saying that it effectively amounts to robbing the poor - in the UK and in poor countries - of money that should be spent on education, health and welfare.

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

Commission invited to be involved in Tackling Poverty Working Group

OVER RECENT MONTHS members of the Poverty Truth Commission have been pat of Glasgow Community Planning Partnership's Tackling Poverty Working Group which is looking to develop an anti-poverty strategy for the city. Two of our Commissioners, Ghazala Hakeem and Darren McGarvey, have been a part of the group which started meeting in April. Other members have been involved in a number of smaller groups, focused on particular areas of work including Welfare Reform.

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

One Year On - Hopes for the Future: Social Media

EARLIER this month we shared our hopes for the future work of the Poverty Truth Commission with people living in poverty and organisations that would like to work in a similar way to us. In our 'One year on' report we have also set out our plans for our future work using Social Media to get people's stories and voices to a wider audience. To read the report, and other reports and articles about the Poverty Truth Commission, please visit our website.
In the past the Poverty Truth Commission have used video as a way of helping people to share their stories. You can view these videos on our website.
Over the next few years the commission will develop this area of work by using Social Media to get people’s stories and voices to a wider audience. As well as this blog we also have a presence on Facebook and Youtube page. Currently we use these to share our latest news and also to share more films and audio recordings made by people involved in the Commission and we hope to develop this further. At the same time, we will continue to work with the mainstream media to ensure our stories are heard there.
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 are 'giving people a voice'

ATD FOURTH WORLD, an organisation which has in the past worked with the Poverty Truth Commission, recently lauched a new project called 'Giving Poverty a Voice'. Through the project they will strive to support people experiencing poverty and inequality in London to engage and participate in their communities and have their say on the decisions that affect their lives.

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.

Throughout the project, they hope to build a network with grass roots and community organisations across London to strengthen the links between diverse experiences and perceptions of poverty as well as planning meetings with local and regional policy and decision makers.

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 meet Scottish Government special adviser on new Bill.

Kinship Carers pose with councillors
The Poverty Truth Commission yesterday hosted a second meeting between Kinship Carers from across Glasgow and Scottish Government special adviser Davie Hutchison. The group discussed the new 'Kinship Order', a distinct legal status for Kinship Care placements, which has been proposed as part of the new Children and Young People Bill.

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

Commissioners helping with training of Civil Servants

THE Poverty Truth Commission has been invited to lead sessions about our work for Civil Servants from the Scottish Government as part of their 'Policy Environment in Scotland' Training. Over the past year, a number of our commissioners have participated in this training, sharing their experiences of being involved in the Commission and encouraging officials to involve people affected by the policies being made in policy making processes.

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

One Year On - Hopes for the future - Working with Organisations

LAST week we shared our hopes for the future work of the Poverty Truth Commission with people living in poverty. In our 'One year on' report we have also set out our plans for our future work with organisations. To read the report, and other reports and articles about the Poverty Truth Commission, please visit our website.

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.

We recognise that our involvement with organisations will vary – some wanting a lot of support whilst others might need a shorter term involvement.

Since last year's Closing Gathering in April 2011 Commission members have continued to work closely with a number organisations who pledged to carry on specific elements of our legacy work to make sure that these pledges are delivered effectively. As the Commission starts to work in a new direction we continue to work closely with some of these organisations as well as working with some new ones including: Buttle UK, Just Fair and the Scottish Government.
Miriam Rose, Researcher for the Commission and the person leading in this area of work commented "The Poverty Truth Commission has demonstrated a unique way of working together that has the potential to radically improve the situation for people in poverty. We are keen to increasingly involve the real experts on poverty in policy making at government level, designing and evaluating services at local authority level and campaigning on poverty in the third sector."

Monday, 30 July 2012

Glasgow Kinship Justice launch its new website

GLASGOW'S Kinship Care support groups have joined together to launch a new website - Glasgow Kinship Justice.

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

One Year On - Hopes for the future - Working with People

RECENTLY the  Poverty Truth Commission published our 'One year on' report which looks back at the work that has been done over the last year since the 'Findings of the Commission' were published at its closing gathering in April 2011 and also sets out our plans for the future. To read the report, and other reports and articles about the Poverty Truth Commission, please visit our website. As part of the report we set out our hopes for future work as the original members of the Commission have decided that there is still much for the Commission to do using our unique experience.
One area of work we will develop over the next year is to continue and expand our support for people living in poverty to have the confidence to speak out about their experience and realise their expertise. We have already started meeting with new commissioners to help them to develop their story and to look at the issues they would like to explore.

At the same time we hope to work with a number of people in positions of power who would like to have develop skills in listening to the realities of poverty and in turn use that knowledge to impact on their area of work. We hope then to bring the two groups of people together in the same way as the first group of commissioners to hear from one another and hopefully find a way of working together to make lasting change.

This work is already happening within the Mentoring Scheme which is currently being piloted with the Scottish Government, where Civil Servants from policy areas that deal with Community Justice, Public Health and Public Service reform are being mentored by people drawn from communities that have a direct experience of poverty and inequality.

Elaine Downie, Development Worker for the Poverty Truth Commission, is leading on this area of work. She commented "too often, people living with the reality of poverty feel they have nothing of importance to say, or no-one to listen seriously to them without pity or blame.  We believe and have experienced the opposite.  

Meeting people who know best the struggles of poverty in their own communities we listen and listen again to the stories they have to tell us, encouraging them to recognise the importance of their opinions and ideas and to see how they feed into policies that are being created at local and national levels. 

We then bring them together with some of the people who create and shape these policies in true conversation. As relationships develop, change blooms. People living with the reality of poverty have much to say, often with great creativity and eloquence. Watch out for our latest films and blog posts, or visit our facebook page for the change to be part of the conversation."

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Making a real difference to the lives of children and young people in need

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

Poverty Truth Commission formally becomes a project of Faith in Community Scotland

SINCE the Poverty Truth Commission started in 2009 it has worked independantly but with the support of Faith in Community Scotland as it was always planned to be a short term project.

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

One Year On - A look back to where we've come from and looking forward to our future work

EARLIER this year the Poverty Truth Commission published a new report 'One Year On'. You can read the report at the Poverty Truth Commission website.

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

Nothing About Us Without Us is For Us @ Edinburgh Castle

TWO weeks ago Darren McGarvey, a member of the Poverty Truth Commission, was amongst the speakers at the launch of the STV 2012 Appeal at Edinburgh Castle.

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

Kinship Carers share their experiences

AS part of Carer's week, the Daily Record reported about the experiences of Anne, Catherine, George and Susan, Kinship Carers from the West Dunbartonshire Kinship Carers Support Group.

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/