Social and economic justice campaigners have long used the title of this blog as a slogan to campaign on a range of human rights issues. It means simply you cannot make fair and just decisions which significantly impact people’s lives without first listening to those people.
Meaningful, not tokenistic, participation is vital for any human rights-based approach. The concept of human rights is centred on preserving and promoting human dignity. What is dignity? Amongst other things, our commissioners told us it means having choice and control over key aspects of your life.
All the great struggles against social and economic inequalities have been led by those with direct experience of injustice.
The Poverty Truth Commission brings together people with direct experience of poverty and important decision makers. Since 2009, we have brought together individuals from some of the most marginalised communities in Glasgow, alongside MSPs, directors of public service bodies, high-ranking civil servants and faith leaders. They have talked and listened to one another and by managing to see the person beyond the label, have learnt from each other.
This video features two former commissioners talking about their experience of being part of the commission and learning the true power of listening. One is a University professor, the other is a kinship carer.
Over the years people have occasionally told us that our decision making model is a nice idea, but surely too difficult to work. Surely people’s expectations are raised too high and those on low incomes can never fully engage. But in our seven years of using this model, we have never found this.
Through having conversations with people in poverty, and actually listening to what they are saying, we have found that what people prize above all is dignity.
Yes that requires having an adequate standard of living, but often just as importantly this also means no longer being stigmatised and discriminated against because of your postcode, clothes or income level.
All the great struggles against social and economic inequalities have been led by those with direct experience of injustice. To truly follow a human rights-based approach to tackle poverty in Scotland, we need to do all we can to make sure those living in poverty are at the forefront of the movement and seated at the decision making table.