This blog was originally published as part of TFN’s Challenge Poverty week series.
In communities across Scotland, kindness is in abundance. People building relationships and working together so that everyone can access the compassion and justice to which we all have a right. Corra has the real pleasure of working alongside many people and organisations on a mission to create positive change. The actions that happen every day in our communities often seem quiet, soft and unassuming. But take a closer look at the coffee mornings in the local community centre, the up-cycling and sharing between neighbours and you’ll see so many examples of togetherness worth celebrating.
We all care about feeling safe, eating food that nourishes and warms us, and having friends and family close by to natter, giggle and sob with. These aren’t luxuries, they are the pillars of wellbeing and fundamental human rights. However, poverty’s persistent grip keeps many from accessing these rights and enjoying the opportunities we all should have.
Corra’s recent insight briefing reflects on what we are learning about the impact of poverty from the communities and organisations working hard to loosen its grip. The insight briefing shares what Corra is hearing from those closest to the issues, because listening to their experiences paves a path to new approaches. In some of the communities Corra works alongside, the stigma associated with using food or clothing banks prevented people accessing the support they needed. Conversations among local people about their concerns led to a change of language. Food banks became food shares or community cafes, and second-hand school uniforms are now ‘pre-loved’ and in need of a good home.
Of course, more systemic change is needed to stop poverty in its tracks, including a human rights approach to the economy and social security. The Scottish Child Payment announced earlier this year was a welcome step towards this, responding to campaigns from communities and charities about the need to ease financial pressures on families. A Scottish social security system with dignity, fairness and respect at its heart is another crucial step forward.
An important message throughout Challenge Poverty Week is that we must never accept inequality and social exclusion as the status quo, as unchangeable or as matter out of our control. The many examples of communities coming together, with kindness and commitment, to respond to challenges show us that change is possible. Above all it shows us that in all efforts to challenge poverty, people who experience it are the experts and listening to them is key.