Listen, Develop, Action – Tackling Poverty


Today, Dumfries and Galloway council Leader Ronnie Nicholson, reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to tackling poverty in our region.

Council Leader, Ronnie Nicholson, said, “One of the first commitments I made as Leader was to tackling poverty in our region and I am pleased that through the work in the Council’s strategy we are making a difference to those who need our help most. This Council is fully committed to tackling poverty and giving practical support and assistance to the most vulnerable people across our region. Our approach provides us with focus and practical steps to ensure our resources are targeted at those most in need, helping people out of poverty, improving their quality of life.”

The focus of our work is on listening to people and families experiencing poverty and making sure their voice is heard. I have been meeting with people in our communities and heard first-hand about their experiences and what we can do to help them become more independent to help themselves. In particular, along with our partners, we are providing them with better information and easier access to services that provide support and ensuring that these meet their needs. People were telling me that they don’t want a hand out; they want a hand up to lead safe, happy and fulfilled lives. That is why we have made sure the work we have undertaken has really focussed on the addressing the challenges that people in poverty face every day.

One of my proudest achievements as Leader was when our Council was the first council is Scotland to be accredited as a Living Wage Employer. It was important that this council was leading by example and paying a fair wage to all our employees. We were also instrumental in ensuring the Living Wage was extended to all our Home Carers in the region. Dumfries and Galloway is the lowest paid region in Scotland so introducing the Living Wage was a big step in addressing this.

The Council also reduced the cost of the school day, removing the cost of some subjects such as home economics or technical. By doing this we are also improving young people’s progression to employment opportunities in hospitality, food related and craft based careers, by providing free access to appropriate national qualifications.

The Council is also funding credit unions, worked with Trading Standards to look at fuel poverty, a new service offered by the Youth Enquiry Service to target support and young people, provided poverty awareness training to businesses and schools, found free accommodation for the Rhins basic bank when they didn’t have anywhere else to go, funded demonstrations in communities on healthy eating on a budget and provided funding to a local newstart project who provide essential household goods.

These are just some of the projects that we are supporting to tackle anti-poverty, but our work doesn’t stop there.

Next, we are going to work with all of the organisations across Dumfries and Galloway to collectively, better understand what each group is doing to tackle poverty so that we can avoid duplication and target any gaps. We will use this information to focus our support. We will work with these groups to look at the best ways of targeting our support as well as encouraging new organisations to tackle some of the issues faced by people every day.

Tackling anti-poverty isn’t about handing out money because that will not address the issues. We have to find long-term, sustainable solutions that challenge the root causes. Working with these organisations will help us to target out support more effectively so that they can address the specific challenges being experienced in communities across our region.

Despite facing severe cutbacks ourselves, our Council will always look at funding worthwhile projects in order to alleviate hardship in our region.”

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