Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Universal Credit Cut - Keep the Lifeline!

 This month our blog post comes from Rose - urging the government to stop the £20 cut to Universal Credit and keep the lifeline.



"Having a devastating and difficult illness such as complex post traumatic stress, any changes made in my life can be catastrophic. They trigger fear and uncertainty, even if it's 'just' £20.

The letters with those words sent through to me with this information cause fear and alarm and I wonder how am I going to survive. Often times, I'll try to sleep through it, to hide from the reality of another cut, another psychological and financial adjustment.

Having many skills, and having pushed through so many obstacles to qualify, I feel disqualified and unable to add to my already dwindling financial support. I would love to , but find myself in periods of illness where it's too difficult to even function, let alone work again.

 £20' is a shop for me, a few dinners shrewdly calculated, still wondering and fearful if I'll have enough at the checkout.  Always "will I have enough?",

The reduced produce is always my go to, reduced flowers I can nurture back to life, gives me some sort of purpose and joy to see the beauty of their colour filling my sparce but safe home.

It's not just a figure to me, it's an engrained part of my survival. It's my safety net from dropping completely into poverty, giving my son my food, as I often go hungry.

The '£20' is more than money to me, it's so considered to me in my life as I have to budget every single detail. It's my train fare to places like the Poverty Truth Commission, for tea and a sandwich and human contact, human concern, interaction and a strength given to go on.

It's sterling money, but it's my absolute lifeline, without it, I see the deficit, I feel it also in many different ways.

Psychologically, if it's there and it's in my bank, i know I can use it for so many different things for survival. Like an elastic band, I can stretch that '£20', because poverty has made me innovative, it's shown me another way. The depression, the fear, the shame, the discouragement of never really having enough to pay the gas bill, for a bed for my son, for the constant struggle, fatigue and apathy for life have no room in my life, they can't, if they do, I'm beat, I give up.

So I'd like to keep that '£20' it's change in your pocket, not considered a lot at all, maybe you've never considered the real impacts of the cuts on real people's lives.

People like me, who despite continually swimming against the current, with '£20', I can do so much. It buys me a life boat and oars to swim in that current of life.

Being in many situations where I've had absolutely nothing and someone gives me '£20', I've won the lottery, my lifeline has returned. I can provide dinner, can feed my therapy dogs, and I can buy those stunningly beautiful flowers blooming brightly and bringing light, bringing joy, hope and  creativity. It brings a safety, that the household are fed a meal, that we have light for another day, there's money in the meter for another day, there's bread on the table for another day.

And there's peace momentarily

One purple note brings all of this. It's removal does only the opposite, the deficit.

One single '£20', does so much more than you think.

So do please think, of the families deeply affected, plunged even deeper into poverty and hopelessness.

Your '£20' which is mere change in your pocket is not just sterling fiscal money.

It's a vital means of survival.

It's a hope installer

It heats a home

It feeds who dwells there.

It's so much more than just sterling money. It's just that you don't realise it.

If you did, you would return it to its rightful owner......

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Mice Have Rights too

This month's blog post comes from Carol T, 

a reflection on standing up for your rights.


I was inspired to write this poem after the Poverty Truth meeting on Human Rights. 

 I have mice in my flat just now and have had mice and/or rats for the last 4 years.  In one of the clips we were watching about housing rights someone had mice in their home and it made me think about mine.  I've ended up putting up with them all this time, even though I'm terrified of mice!

When were asked at the end of the meeting to each say what we were going away thinking about, I said 'Mice have rights too!', just trying to be funny.  But then I started thinking about what it is like for the mice and how I don't stand up for my human rights, so it's me that hasn't got a back bone! 

It's scared.  I'm scared.  Writing this poem helped me to look at how I was really feeling.


Mice have Rights too

What about me?

I've a right to remain

I don’t have a name

But my rights are the same.

 

I've got mouths to feed

Stomachs are empty

Only poison to eat.

Scraps are plenty, Plenty of rights!


I don’t make much sound

I'm as quick as a flash

Shadows are glanced in the blink of an eye

As I scamper by.


Your screams, screeches pierce through my ears

You frighten, scare me I'm full of fear

Brothers and sisters dead on the trap

Slowly die as they eat the poisonous crap.

 

What about me ?

I've a right to remain

I don’t have no name

But my rights are the same.

 

A safe place to stay a crumb from your table

Trying to keep my family stable

You try to destroy me you turn a blind eye

Laugh at your phobia call me Vermin.

Dirty evil spineless creature

I cant help my nature.


What about my voice I want to be heard

Listen to my life my family dead

Its quick you say just a snap to the neck

Or a slow poisonous deep sleep what a cheek!

Where else can I go you’ve taken my habitat

Built homes, flats, knocked down our turf

Well weve had enough squattins our game

Treat us with kindness be humane.


You’re the spineless one you cant say No!

Accepting conditions has become your to go

Jumping at the slightest noise

That’s your choice

Take a leaf out of my book

Stand up for your rights just look.


Open your eyes open your ears

Accepting humiliation for years

Fight learn gain knowledge you see

Stop blaming me Stop blaming me. 

 

What about me

I've a right to remain

I don’t have a name

But my rights are the same.



Wednesday, 21 July 2021

 

 Human Rights and Poverty

Our conversations the last few weeks have frequently been around human rights and poverty and this Monday our Poverty Truth Conversation focused in on the issue, welcoming friends from ATD 4th World and Making Rights real into the conversation.

In this month's blog Caroline who has long been campaigning for the Right to Food shares some of her thoughts.

"The Government need to move away from a charity model of food provision  ie. food banks and ensure that people are not at the mercy of the benefit system to feed themselves.

This is why we should all support the campaign of  enshrining the right to food in Scots law.  If it was successful it  would  guide the Scottish Government on developing strategies to tackle food insecurity based on human rights.    

 This would achieve food equality for all.   We would know this has been realised  when everyone has physical and economic access to food.

Human  rights are every ones rights.  We must all challenge the Government when they are failing."


You can find out more about the Right to Food Campaign here:   The Right to Food Campaign - Nourish Scotland

      

Friday, 25 June 2021

Introducing Stories of Hope

 

Our blog this month comes from Zizi, introducing us to our recently launched booklet 'Stories of Hope - Finding Asylum'.





My name is Ezinna Orji, Zizi as am fondly called. I actually inspired this Stories of Hope booklet with other ladies. I was an asylum seeker and passed through the process though with challenges but now am a community practitioner that empowers others that are in the process .

 

It all started from the accent as everything was wee in Glasgow, then to communicating, housing, access to health care, basic amenities -

and where to access these information to get us settled.

 

It was a bit of struggle because the asylum stigma was there. But with time I realised that there was great assistance only if we got through to the right channel.

 

The thought of telling our stories in a comic way brought about the creation of this book so as to enable both people that can and can’t read to see that there is hope.

 

When things happen in your life, you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you or you can let it strengthen you.  And I choose strength. 

 

This booklet is just to let those in the process know that there is a lot to access and help while in the asylum process like education, getting to know your community, making friends, bonding and bridging gaps, sharing your stories to empower others and also volunteering to give you added advantage to becoming self-confident.

 

For me I have always been hopeful. Our eyes are in front because it is more important to look ahead than to look backwards.

 

Past is a waste-paper, present is a newspaper, and the future is a question paper. Come out of your past, control the present, and secure the future.

 

This is not just a story of hope but reality to being happy.


You can read the beautiful booklet of welcome we created here:


https://issuu.com/magictorchcomics/docs/stories_of_hope_digital_



 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

My Story of Hope

 

                    Our latest blog post comes from Jackie, reflecting on her story of hope.



 My story of hope is one that begins with my journey from being a mum, living in poverty, and trying to heal and sustain myself through campaigning for a better world.  

The Poverty Truth Community empowered me by listening to me, acting with me, and believing in me; giving me the hope, strength, and guidance I needed to eventually find a job working with communities to create sustainable food systems.  

This work has been both fulfilling and transformative for me, and my journey is very much reflected in the opening words that I compiled for the 17th October event in George Square, Glasgow, which the PTC gave me the opportunity to host in 2015.  

The theme was: ‘Building a sustainable future: Coming together to end poverty and discrimination’, and, while my words captured some of the anguish I experienced as a mum living with poverty, they also provided hope for the future, which is what I have now:  Here is a summary:

Today we live in a frenzied, consumerist world and the beneficiaries of it are but a privileged few.  Yet consumerism has a way of convincing us that it benefits everyone.  We are told that we have freedom of choice, everything at our fingertips, we can have things right here and right now and, if we work hard enough, we can have anything we want and we need.  

This is the myth of consumerism.  The reality is that the cost of living is rising and the incomes of the poorest are being reduced; many are debt-ridden, battling illness/disability, discriminated against, working long, anti-social and low-paid jobs, and sacrificing precious time with their family and friends with little to show for it.  People are breaking their backs to achieve the impossible and then they get stigmatised for not trying hard enough.

Consumerism is a powerful machine, charging through communities, leaving shattered lives and broken people in its wake.  It is having a devastating effect on the environment and exacerbates poverty around the world.  But there are signs here and globally that the time is ripe to reverse some of the damage that has been done.  Sustainable development, in short, is:

"Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."  From the World Commission on Environment and Development’s (the Brundtland Commission) report Our Common Future (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987). 

All over we see grass roots efforts in the shape of social enterprises, eco-groups, community activism, charities, churches and new approaches to community development that are linking people to their environment and communities in ways we have never seen before.   

Through sustainable development we can take the control of our future, and that of the generations who follow us, out of the hands of the privileged few who are driving consumerism, and into the hands of the people who have been affected by it.  

We are the ones who know the truth about how consumerism influences us; how it causes and contributes to poverty, environmental degradation, inequality, and discrimination.  We are the ones who can raise awareness of the damage it does to ordinary human beings trying, against the odds to live together harmoniously in communities here and the world over.  

Through sustainable development we can take small steps as individuals and communities to resist, transform and overcome.  

Jackie Stockdale



 

 

 

 

 



Tuesday, 6 April 2021

My Skiphat


 

I came across this boy one day. 

Begging for pennies to keep hunger at bay. 

His skiphat at his feet.

His hair cut short and neat.

I just stood and looked .

Why don't you go home to your mum I said.

'Mrs,' he said, 'I cant go home, 

You see the drugs have entered my bones.

Every day I sit with my Skiphat at my feet.

Missing my Mum and home, 

Missing my hugs because of the drugs.


'Tell your weans,

 Use your brains don't be a mug.

Stay away from drugs.

Smack give it a wack.

Es turns you into a dirty wee Bs.

Hash can't you see its trash.

Blues will land you in prison blues.


'Listen to me...

 My story is true, 

With my Skiphat at my feet.   

My hairs no longer neat.

My arms, legs, face is so skinny.'


Hold on to your life, cause I no longer have mine.

My Mum's got me home.

My Skiphat no longer at my feet.

It's on my Head now.

My hair's short and neat.

'YES that's my boy'

My Mum tells all.

'Yes that's my boy lying there in his Coffin'. 


Cath Wallace

Friday, 4 December 2020

Dear Little Black Child

 


Dear Little Black Child, 

I’m sorry that I have to tell you this but you’ll need to know eventually. 

I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet but your skin is dark. 

No it’s not dirty and no it’s not ugly. 

But because your skin is darker there are sadly many people in the world who believe that because you have more melanin it means you are less human. 

They believe you don’t deserve a chance to live and have less worth than a rock. 

Since they believe this they have tried every possible way to make your life harder. 

Made it so in America 50% of people arrested are black even though there are only 13% of black people in America. 

Made it so you have a harder time getting jobs, made it so when police come you’re scared they’re gonna hurt you, made it so when your in hospital doctors don’t treat you as seriously “because you have a higher pain tolerance”, made it so that when people think of slaves they think of you.

Little black child you will never know the privilege of being the standard, of being the default doll colour or the typical protagonist in a book. To see proper representation of yourself is hard and I don’t mean the black best friend or the ghetto black girl. 

To live in a world where your colour does not define you is what our people have been fighting for for hundreds of years, that’s right hundreds, you’d think things would have changed by now. 

People say slavery was abolished years ago but that’s not true. Sure we’re not in the fields picking cotton anymore, but we are being systematically oppressed. 

Little black child I’m so so sorry that you have to deal with this, that we all have to deal with this. 

But don’t worry. 

With protests and petitions and education we will fix this. 

So that you don’t need to worry about police brutality or racism. 

So that the labels that have been nailed to us can be burned. 

We’ve waited a long time but it’s coming. 

With love,

C.J. Adebayo 

(age 15)