The Story So Far…
The Dundee Partnership first published its Fairness Strategy in June 2012. Since then a number of initiatives have been undertaken through an associated Action Plan, including the institution of a Fairness Commission in March 2015. The Dundee Fairness Commission brought together members with a wealth of experience from a range of settings including partners in the public, voluntary, community, private and academic sectors. The Commission members worked together to understand the challenges facing people in Dundee and to test out whether, as a city, everything is being done to stop people from moving into poverty and giving them the best possible chance to move permanently out of poverty. The Commission’s report ‘A Fair Way To Go’ was launched on the 20th May 2016.
It brings together the work of the Fairness Commission during the year and sets out a series of 56 recommendations to help tackle poverty and deprivation across Dundee. Faith in Community Dundee, partnered with Shelter Dundee, Craigowl Communities, Microdot Films and Dundee University, worked with the Dundee Fairness Commission during 2015-2016 and produced a report “Gathering Experiences of Poverty in Dundee”
(http://www.dundeepartnership.co.uk/sites/default/files/FICD%20povertyreport.pdf) highlighting a number of issues.
We interviewed 147 people, and of those interviewed:
– 68% are finding it hard to pay for heating, food, clothing
– 60% struggled with mental health
– 53% faced barriers to employment
– 38% struggled with the cost of public transport
– 24% identified stigma as an issue
– 18% identified discrimination as an issue
– 18% had alcohol/drug addiction issues.
Of the 24% struggling with stigma, 89% of them said they received no support with this. Of the 18% struggling with discrimination, 85% said they receive no support with this. Of the total number of people interviewed 58% were women; 43% were receiving PIP, ESA or DLA; 12% were over 55 years old and 10% were from the BME community.
What’s more concerning is that 73% of female participants were receiving no support for their money/benefit or accommodation issues, and 60% were receiving no support for their mental health issues.
We all want the ensuing legacy of the Fairness Commission in Dundee to be seen through; we all want real and sustainable change. As the Dundee Partnership took up the task of creating and fulfilling an action plan based on its 56 recommendations, we developed a continuing conversation, ‘Phase Two’ working closely with the Dundee Partnership and sitting alongside the ongoing action plan.
Working in partnership with, and funded by, the Scottish Government (http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00506841.pdf) and Dundee Partnership, Faith in Community Dundee developed ‘Phase Two’ drawing learning from The Poverty Truth Commission, (http://www.faithincommunityscotland.org/poverty-truth-commission/) bringing together two distinct groups of people: senior civic, political and business leaders in Dundee and an equal number of people who struggle against poverty on a daily basis.
Over a period of 18 months we are focusing on:
· building relationships;
· developing shared work between the two different groups of commissioners;
· encouraging change within the organisations, institutions and communities of Dundee;
· and making proposals around key areas of anti-poverty work identified through the experience and knowledge of the commissioners.
The Commissioners named the new Commission Dundee Fighting for Fairness (#DundeeFightingforFairness) and meets every six weeks as a full commission with Working Groups meeting in between, building relationships and increasing understanding. Through these meetings the Commission have identified particular issues to work on together. The 3 key issues are:
· Mental Health
The key is the collaborative process. This is about the real experts in the room, the Commissioners representing local communities, being in a position to influence change through their experiences and ideas. This is about seeing each other, hearing each other and speaking out together.
What makes this different? The commissioners decide the themes through conversations with each other; they work together in smaller groups around the 3 key themes to campaign for and bring about change and to share their learning with others; the staff do not lead the process but support it; all commissioners are equal in the room. This is led by the people who really know what it’s like to live in poverty in our city.
We are facing tougher times, poverty is on the rise, resources are stretched to the limits and beyond, choices are becoming more limited and harder to make. This process brings a longer deeper change to the way we function across sectors and across communities – we need to see this change happen as we are failing those who are in the poorest communities, those who have no voice.