Challenge poverty in Scotland? Aye, we can!

We were pleased to be joined by Laoise Rogers for Challenge Poverty Week 2017.  Here she writes about the strength of the communities she visited.  

Having enjoyed my work experience so much this summer, I was delighted to have the opportunity to be involved with Challenge Poverty Week. On day 3, I was fortunate to visit two community projects as part of CPW’s goal of highlighting the great strength of Scottish communities, which often goes unnoticed.

At a community breakfast in Priesthill I saw firsthand how the warmth of the people there (and the bacon butties) was appreciated on the otherwise stormy day.  As well as finding out about inventive Hallowe’en costumes from some very lively children, and discovering how particular some people are about their tea, I heard how much the local people value the project. This weekly breakfast is just as much about giving people a space to socialise with each other as it is about providing them with a hot drink and food. A volunteer from the organisation “Urban Roots” demonstrated how to make soup in the background, with each individual then being able to take away a paper bag full of vegetables, other ingredients, and a copy of the recipe. I thought it was great that the ingredients were provided because, as I heard, often its not the cooking that’s the difficult part, but rather getting hold of fresh ingredients for a manageable price. Towards the end of our visit I ended up sitting at a table, colouring in vegetables and princesses (an unusual pairing, I know) with a group of young girls. I think I enjoyed it just as much as they did, if not more!

The second place we visited was “Drumhub” in Drumchapel, another volunteer-led project in the local community that arranges cooking, crafts and food. It was a really positive environment with everyone sitting round a table, chatting over bowls of soup. This project also provides the opportunity for new skills to be learnt or existing skills shared. The lady sat next to me was teaching another lady to crochet – I couldn’t contribute much myself but I sat and watched her nimble fingers in awe. I also came away with some book recommendations after an extensive discussion with one of the women there.

These projects are extremely valuable as support networks for the locals, giving them the chance to either talk to each other about their problems or get some respite by discussing other things. By getting to know each other the sense of community is strengthened and I can imagine it helps to talk to others who are dealing with similar issues. It is really important that we as the public, but also the government acknowledge the work that goes on in communities across Scotland. The power of a strong community should not be underestimated and should be recognised, however that does not mean it should fall on their shoulders to lift people out of poverty.

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