October 16, 2017 : Allan Young
Time for us all to challenge poverty
Yesterday saw the start of Challenge Poverty Week, an annual campaign designed to raise awareness of anti-poverty work in Scotland. Bringing together a whole host of campaigners, community activists and people with lived experience, Challenge Poverty Week 2017 is not to be missed.
A key part of the week is the marking of October 17th as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year will see 30 years since Father Joseph Wresinski addressed over 100,000 people in Paris, highlighting how poverty violates fundamental human rights and the need for us all to challenge it.
As in previous years, tomorrow (October 17th) a crowd will gather in Glasgow’s George Square to mark the occasion and remind us all that what Father Wresinski spoke of 30 years ago is still very relevant today in Scotland. Central to this gathering, will be hearing the real lived experiences of people in poverty in Scotland.
This is a key theme behind the Challenge Poverty Week campaign: last year more than a quarter of children in Scotland were living in relative poverty, seriously harming life opportunities, health and well-being. With a programme of austerity continuing to hit the poorest the hardest, and recent financial projections showing local authorities at breaking point, its clear poverty is a very real challenge in Scotland.
So what can be done? Well, alongside highlighting the ongoing context of poverty, the week long programme features some of the great work being done by individuals and organisations tackling poverty across Scotland.
The wide variety of events on offer reflects the often complex picture of life in poverty in Scotland, from tackling food insecurity to developing community strength. As well as highlighting work to mitigate poverty, Challenge Poverty Week has a campaigning element, calling for, amongst other things, an end to the benefit freeze.
Many of those involved in Challenge Poverty Week are charities and voluntary organisations, and this in many ways reflects how much the Scottish third sector has led the fight against poverty. From connecting with the most excluded in society to calling for innovative approaches to ending poverty, the sector has made sure it has never fallen off the policy agenda.
To find out what is happening near you and play your part to challenge poverty, check out the Poverty Alliance website.