Friday, 2 May 2014

“You’ve got a voice, use it!”

So says community activist Caroline Mockford speaking at the Poverty Alliance’s Poverty Assembly. Caroline was highlighting her successful campaign to make the NHS 24 number free to call from mobiles and landlines.

Caroline used her own example to highlight the need for the change in legislation. In 2008 she was changed £8 for a call she made to NHS 24.

On the back of this, she launched a petition to have the number made free and, with the help of the Poverty Alliance, the costs were successfully challenged. Now, it is completely free to phone NHS 24 on 111, when calling from either a landline or mobile.

As Caroline correctly identifies, this extra charge penalised those on low incomes as many do not have a landline and were required to use a mobile, thus paying higher rates.
This is one of numerous hidden extra charges which those on low incomes have to pay. 

These costs are often referred to as the poverty penalty or the poverty premium and are little discussed in the national media, but are the everyday reality for many across the country.

Those with Experience are the Experts

Caroline’s story is testament to the ability of individuals to challenge the system and achieve clear results. However, her story also reveals that the solutions for tackling poverty do not lie just in the minds of our key decision makers and elected officials. 

Instead, she shows that those with experience of poverty are experts on their situation and must be included in the decision making process.

Working Together

Caroline, like other commissioners with the Poverty Truth Commission, has a deep insight into the costs of being poor as she has lived experience of the struggles dealing with them, such as paying higher energy tariffs for a pre-payment meter.

The extra costs of being poor is one of a number of issues being addressed by the Poverty Truth Commission. The Commission seeks to bring together those experts with important decision makers to work together in creating long-term solutions to poverty.

Turning Up the Volume on Poverty

On Saturday 21, June the Poverty Truth Commission will be celebrating the fantastic work of our commissioners such as Caroline. If you’re interested in seeing how their great ideas can be combined with the power and passion of influential individuals across Scottish society then please come along.

To register at this free event click here; call 0141 248 2911; or email #TurnItUp2014

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