Dumfries & Galloway Council Forms ‘Tackling Poverty’ Group

In order to make a positive difference, Dumfries and Galloway Council have formed a Tackling Poverty group which includes, and is increasingly driven by, a group of service users with direct experience of living in poverty. The service users come from across the region and a variety of groups involved in supporting issues around poverty.

As part of our promotions during Challenge Poverty Week (16-22 October) our Chief Executive, Gavin Stevenson, and relevant council officers, including our newly appointed Anti-Poverty Officer, met with this group over coffee to discuss the issues faced and the way forward for people experiencing poverty in our region.

Gavin said: “Our Anti-Poverty Strategy was never more necessary than it is now: poverty is increasingly covering a wider spectrum of people. This group will give us an opportunity to test proposals that people not experiencing poverty can’t see – It will help us look at services from ‘their’ perspective.”

The Chief Executive also encouraged those attending the group to become ‘mystery shoppers’ and report back to our council with information on what we could be changing or doing better.

The service users have been involved in work and opportunities to build their confidence and understanding of services designed to tackle poverty. They have visited Kates Kitchen in Annan and the North West Resource Centre in Dumfries, and their next meeting is to be with ADAT Alcohol and Drugs action Team Stewartry. They have also attended an event with the Strategic Partnership (Police, NHS, Third Sector, Fire and Rescue and the Council), and engaged in dialogue with them around the causes and effects of poverty and have met with the Council’s administration, at their request.

The Council and its partners, through the Community Planning Executive Group (CPEG) are keen to further understand the challenges for people living in poverty and to address any barriers they may experience in accessing services. At the meeting service users were asked to give their views on how Council funding around poverty should be allocated and to had a discussion about their lived experience of poverty and looked at how Community Planning Partners can further work to mitigate the effects of poverty for people in our region.

In addition they discussed the inspection of services from a service- user perspective around poverty after which they will provide improvement recommendations and possibly act as a reference/ consultation group for any Council or partner policies that may impact on poverty.

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