After almost four years, this is my last week working for the Poverty Alliance. I leave knowing much more than when I arrived, particularly about the steps that we need to take to build a better Scotland. Since I joined the Alliance in 2014, poverty in Scotland and the UK has continued to rise but I am also more certain than ever that it doesn’t need to stay that way.
Working with the Poverty Alliance and third sector organisations across Scotland has opened my eyes to the extent of poverty across Scotland, but also to the solutions and the strength and resilience of individuals and communities.
This year was the fifth Challenge Poverty Week and more organisations than ever got involved, with over 150 activities taking place across the week. These activities ranged from the Poverty Alliance’s annual conference to a fun day in Priesthill, and at each event I attended I met people with a real drive and commitment to tackling poverty and making Scotland a better place to live for everyone.
I have been incredibly lucky to spend the past four years with the Alliance. My colleagues there are some of the most knowledgeable and dedicated anti-poverty campaigners in Scotland. Their belief that a better Scotland is possible has kept me going in the face of growing despair as the true impacts of welfare reform has become apparent.
Over the past few years, I’ve watched as my colleagues on the Living Wage team have increased the number of accredited employers in Scotland from 15 to over 1000. I’ve witnessed our research team produce reports that have been hugely influential in how we speak about issues relating to poverty, and I’ve seen our fieldwork team work with community activists who can deliver speeches 100 times more powerful than anything I could ever hope to say. On the policy and campaigns side, we have seen Stick Your Labels making real changes to the way organisations talk to and about people experiencing poverty, and have witnessed the discourse around social security change to talking about dignity and respect. We have also had a significant impact in the passage of important legislation such as the Child Poverty Act.
I know real change is possible because I’ve witnessed the Poverty Alliance deliver it, and as we watch the new Social Security Bill progress and the development of the new agency, organisations like the Poverty Alliance are more important than ever.
To paraphrase Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, lobbyists do not always have a good name but Poverty Alliance are first rate champions, and as I move on I know I leave you in capable hands.
Carla McCormack, policy and parliamentary officer, Poverty Alliance