If we are fortunate, in our lives, we come across something which we believe could change society in dramatic and wonderful ways. For me, that something is a Poverty Truth Commission.
In April 2009, at the launch of Scotland’s first Poverty Truth Commission, I had little sense that I was part of a model that was going to change so many lives, including my own.
Remembering the gathering, of 500 people in Glasgow City Chambers’ Banqueting Hall, still sends tingles down my spine. Those whose lives had been scarred by poverty and injustice spoke and danced and sang of that reality, and of the changes they wanted to happen. Those who listened and watched, laughed and wept and committed themselves to action. A new movement was born that day.
In the decade since, Poverty Truth Commissions have started to spring up all across the UK and in September 2019, the Poverty Truth Network was established to take forward that work. It brings people struggling against poverty together with senior civic and business leaders to work for change.
By the end of 2023, Poverty Truth Commissions have now bubbled up in 35 locations across the UK. This way of working is making a difference locally, regionally and nationally.
Relationships lie right at the heart of the work and the understanding that real change does not happen unless the people who need to benefit most are involved from the very outset: Nothing About Us Without Us Is For Us. It is breath-taking in its simplicity and in its impact.
I regard it as one of the privileges of my life to have helped to establish that first Poverty Truth Commission, then to have supported the spread of Poverty Truth Commissions in different locations across the UK, and now helping to lead the Poverty Truth Network as we to continue and expand that work.