Wednesday, 18 June 2014

‘When people in poverty are listened to, change happens.’

This is the simple, and stark, message of Scotland’s Poverty Truth Commission. The opposite is also, tragically, true. When people who struggle against poverty are ignored, or worse still, blamed for their poverty, things will only get worse.

Over the next three months, the leaders of the Yes and No Thanks campaigns will be constantly in our papers and on our radios and TVs, as well as in countless conversations in the house, the workplace, the playground, the church hall, the pub, and the sports centre. There will be times when we will all wish that we could just turn down the volume.

At the same, there will be another group of people whose voice, wisdom and experience is rarely heard. They are many of Scotland’s poorest and most disadvantaged citizens. Politicians talk about them. Newspapers blame them. But they are rarely heard. This is not only a disgrace. It is also a huge – and unacceptable – waste of talent, creativity and energy. We can never create a Scotland we are capable of making, whether independent or as part of the union, when so many are marginalised and ignored.

On Saturday afternoon, Scotland’s Poverty Truth Commission will be Turning Up the Volume on Poverty. After 18 months working and learning together, we will be presenting our conclusions and recommendations to an audience of over 450 people.

Scotland’s Poverty Truth Commission is a unique combination of people. We bring together some of Scotland’s most influential people with others who are frequently ignored. We have done much more than work together. Many of us have also established friendships which will last a life time. All of us have been changed by the experience.

In our report, to be published on Saturday, we issue a set of challenges to energy providers, to the Department of Work & Pensions, to newspapers and to politicians. We suggest some practical steps which be taken to address food poverty, in-work poverty and the additional expenses that people living in poverty often have to bear.

Above all, however, we argue that the scandal of poverty will never be adequately addressed until those who struggle against it are seen as pivotal to the solutions and not part of the problem. We very much hope that you will join us in Turning Up the Volume on Poverty.

Turning Up the Volume on Poverty will be launched on 21st June 2014 in Glasgow’s Woodside Hall. You can book your place here.
Martin Johnstone

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