A range of creative performance saw the emotions of those in the audience veer between laughter and tears as the stigma and unjust situations faced by many were played out on stage. One young woman used hip hop to express her dismay at Glasgow’s inequality. The touching and clever film ‘No Ball Games’ showed how poverty and the surrounding environment can stifle people’s ability to express themselves. The injustices of the asylum process, the senselessness of people on low wages being faced with higher costs for basic services and the inflexibility of employers were all highlighted. More than half of those in poverty are now in working households.
The event at Woodside Hall was a call to action for those with experience of poverty to make their voices heard. It was also a demand that those in positions of power hear them and give them a seat at the decision making table. It was a call for everyone to write to their energy companies and to demand better treatment of those on low incomes. It was a call to recognise foodbanks are not the answer to ending hunger, and real determination must be focused on addressing the causes of food poverty.
Those gathered experienced the real sense of resilience and determination of people striving for a better life for them and their children. Many highlighted their personal experience of the strength they had drawn from volunteering with organisations such as the Poverty Truth Commission, Bridging the Gap and the Scottish Refugee Council.
New commissioners, who will now take this work forward for the next 18 months, included Karyn McCluskey of the Violence Reduction Unit, who told the crowd she’d been left humbled and very much affected by the sheer strength of the performances. She was joined on stage by a host of other new commissioners, including Jackie Baillie MSP (Labour), Bob Doris MSP (Scottish National Party), Ross Finnie (Liberal Democrats), Margaret Lynch (Citizens Advice Scotland), Jim McCormick (Joseph Rowntree Foundation) and Most Rev Philip Tartaglia (Archbishop of Glasgow).
The Commission’s slogan ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us, is For Us’ was cried out three times by the audience at the end. They left with the clear message that in order to eradicate poverty in Scotland, those with experience of it must be placed at the heart of the decision making process and listened to.
Videos included in the multimedia event can be seen here:
No Ball Games
The Story of the Commission 2014