Charities unite to fight a perfect storm of poverty

Charities unite to fight a perfect storm of poverty
Third Sector News, By Robert Armour
04.03.14

Families living in poverty face a bleak outlook with little hope of turning their fortunes around, according to a new campaign from Scottish charities.

Too many people in Scotland are living in poverty and face a bleak future, a major new charity-run campaign is saying.

Leading charities have united to launch the Scotland’s Outlook campaign, which is calling for decisive action to turn around the humanitarian crisis which sees one in six people living in poverty.

The group includes Macmillan, Shelter Scotland, Oxfam, Alzheimer Scotland, Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS), Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), the Poverty Alliance and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO).

They say the public and politicians’ view of poverty is wrong and too many families are stuck living on tiny incomes with no hope of a brighter future.

Some 870,000 people are estimated to be living in poverty with one fifth of all children in Scotland living below the breadline.

And over 25,000 people in Scotland turned to food banks to help feed their families last year – a record figure.

Jamie Livingstone, the acting head of Oxfam Scotland, said cuts to social safety-nets had gone too far, leading to destitution, hardship and hunger on a large scale and such “glaring inequality” couldn’t be allowed to continue.      

“Poverty isn’t just affecting those out of work, for too many people employment is not a route out of poverty either.

“We need a society where everyone, whether they are in or out of work, has a decent income that allows them to live with dignity. We should expect nothing less in rich Scotland.”

The campaign aims to highlight poverty across the social spectrum with health and housing charities joining more traditional anti-poverty campaigners in an effort to tackle poverty from different angles.

It is using the idea of a weather forecast to highlight that there is a bleak outlook for families living in poverty in Scotland.

Jim Pearson, deputy director for policy at Alzheimer Scotland, said poverty is more widespread than many people realise, and raising awareness of that is the first step to challenging its damaging effects.

“The negative perceptions of people living in poverty are compounded by the stigma which too often surrounds issues like the one we campaign for – dementia.

“Such perceptions fail to recognise people as individuals who continue to make a positive contribution to society, preventing them from taking part in society as equal and active citizens.”

With nearly a million people in Scotland living in poverty, Martin Sime, chief executive of SCVO, said it amounted to a humanitarian crisis.

“We want people to wake up to the poverty storm that’s engulfing Scotland and get active in the fight against it,” he said.