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."