Carmen Simon, End Poverty Edinburgh
As part of Challenge Poverty Week, the first End Poverty in Edinburgh was held.
We wanted to create an opportunity to think about how we can build an Edinburgh with justice and compassion at its heart and address some of the issues we are concerned about, from the perspective of those with lived experience of poverty.
The event was organised in four sections: Low Pay; Disability and Poverty; and Food Poverty and Housing. Discussions were focused around three questions:
Our aim was not to highlight the causes and consequences of poverty, but to discuss and agree on actions to challenge and eradicate the causes of poverty in Edinburgh (and beyond).
We encouraged participation from the people in the room by opening the floor to Q&A sessions after panel presentations and by facilitating table discussions.
Many organisations participated in the event from all around Edinburgh, such as Edinburgh Tenants Federation, Social Security Scotland, Grassmarket Community Project (who also hosted us), Dads Rock, and of course the City of Edinburgh Council, with Council Leader Cammy Day and Councillor Jane Meagher in attendance.
For us this event was very important. We put a lot of work into organising and delivering it, with the assistance of the Poverty Alliance and our own facilitator Steven Drew. A lot of work happens before the actual event occurs, including discussion about agenda, sharing of tasks/responsibilities, recording of videos, setting up of the venue, etc, etc…. it was nerve racking, yet at the same time an amazing experience.
Everyone in EPE worked together to organise an event that was important for us, and relevant within the context of the Challenge Poverty Week.
For us, the event was also an opportunity to learn from other organisations which are working to eradicate poverty in Edinburgh and to come up with concrete plans/solutions; it was certainly not a rhetorical exercise. It was also an opportunity to be heard by politicians and decision makers like Councillor Jane Magher and Council Leader Cammy Day; an opportunity for them to listen to our proposals in first person.
We received very positive feedback from participants in terms of content of the conference and organisation. Some called it ‘fantastic’ or ‘brilliant’, and ‘well-structured and well facilitated’, with others complementing the ‘really good mix of speakers’ and fairly short segments that ‘helped keep up the energy’. One comment said it was a ‘fantastic event’, calling it ‘dynamic, real and full of passion’.
Perhaps in line with our aspirations, the same participant referred to the event as ‘rebellious and hopeful too’ – perhaps a perfect motto for our group.