post

Expert group sets out vision to tackle poverty in Fife – Fairer Fife Commission report recommends ambitious plan to help 75,000 Fifers

AN INDEPENDENT Commission has set out a far-reaching vision to eradicate poverty in Fife. ‘Fairness Matters’ the report of the Fairer Fife Commission, is challenging Fife Council, public services, charities and businesses in Fife to work together to deliver a “significantly fairer Fife by 2030.”

Fairness Matter Report 2015

Over 40 recommendations are listed in the hard hitting report by the Commission, including a push on building more affordable housing, encouraging a million more hours of volunteering a year, creating a new apprenticeship for every £1 million of public expenditure in Fife, a call for free travel cards for low income families, and more support for people facing welfare benefit sanctions,

The Fairer Fife Commission was established by Fife Council in September last year to examine the root causes of poverty in local communities and make recommendations on how best to tackle the issue. Membership was made up of senior figures, who gave up their time freely, from across public, private and voluntary sectors.

At its launch today (Monday) at the Cottage Family Centre in Kirkcaldy, the report was formally handed over by Martyn Evans, Chair of the Commission and Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust, to Fife Council Leader David Ross.

Cllr Ross welcomed the report, calling it “a document of huge significance for Fife.”

He added: “We estimate that around 75,000 people are directly affected by poverty in Fife – a situation that is completely unacceptable in the 21st century. But the impact, the cost and the loss of potential through poverty are things that concern us all.

“We  set up this independent Commission  to bring together expertise and knowledge from across Scotland, to help us tackle this blight on our society, and consider how the council and its partners  can make a real difference to people’s lives.

“This report is the result of a lot of hard work and thought and my thanks and appreciation go out to all the Commissioners who gave up their valuable time to focus on this project over the last year. Our pledge now is that the recommendations made here will shape the future direction of public services in Fife and will have a positive impact on people who need it most.”

The Commission met regularly over the course of the year focussing on issues including financial capability, welfare advice, transport links, employability skills, childcare provision, early years services, educational attainment, health inequalities, housing and homelessness and addressing stigma. They heard evidence from looked after children, users of foodbanks, people suffering the effects of sanctions, and others whose lives are affected by poverty.

Chair Martyn Evans commented: “It was a great privilege to be asked to Chair the Fairer Fife Commission. I am grateful to my fellow Commissioners for the commitment, energy and expertise that they brought to this process. I am also grateful to the many citizens and organisations across Fife who took time to submit evidence and share their views and experiences about what can be done to tackle inequality in Fife and make it a fairer place to live and work. Their input has been critical in shaping our final report.

“We have set out an ambitious set of recommendations for Fife Council and its partners in the public, private and voluntary sector.

“These proposals are challenging and will require new ways of working across many areas of policy and practice. Our vision requires the capabilities and views of citizens to be placed at the heart of service delivery. Decisions must be clearly informed by the data and evidence about what works. There should be transparency and openness about the progress made. And there must be shared sense of purpose and commitment from all those in Fife whose work can impact upon fairness.”

The Commission defines a Fairer Fife as somewhere “where all residents have the capability to live good lives, make choices and reach their full potential and where all children are safe, happy and healthy.”

The report’s recommendations are collated under eight themes – A Fairer Fife is: ambitious, poverty-free, fair work, affordable, connected, empowered, skilled and healthier. One of the key recommendations concludes that the council and its partners should be more ambitious in the work they do, aiming to be one of the best performing local authority areas in Scotland where “people feel enabled, supported and confident to access the opportunities available.”

Other recommendations include:

  • Establishing a Knowledge Hub to become a centre of excellence in translating data on fairness in Fife into practical action
  • Strengthening partnerships with the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) to improve the local welfare system and create trust between those looking for work and job centres
  • Making more use of participatory budgeting in communities to guide spending
  • Increasing the number of people who are members of Credit Unions to 30,000 by 2030
  • More emphasis on reducing the educational attainment gap by working with all Fife schools individually
  • Establishing a pilot project to help those suffering from stress and anxiety as a result of their circumstances, particularly people who are living alone

Today’s launch is hosted by the Cottage Family Centre in Kirkcaldy, a location deliberately chosen by the Commission in recognition of the fantastic work it does to help the most vulnerable. Several Commissioners visited the Centre as part of their work to gather evidence earlier this year and were extremely impressed by the wealth of positive stories they heard.

Manager of the Centre is Pauline Buchan. She commented: “We’re delighted to host the launch of Fairer Fife Commission report. It’s an important step for all organisations in Fife who are working to help people affected by poverty.

“Our communities are strong and do a lot to help each other but they desperately need more support and investment to get through these hard times.”

Fife Council Leader David Ross is confident the Commission’s recommendations will help achieve the council’s vision of a “better, stronger, fairer Fife.”

He concluded: “This is a real milestone in the fight against poverty in our communities. It’s reassuring to receive confirmation from experts in the field that Fife is doing some great work but there is much more to be done.  We are now going to build on that todevelop and implement further practical action to reduce poverty in our communities.”

Download a copy of the The Fairer Fife Commission report, “Fairness Matters”.

A video showing the experiences of people living with poverty and those who help and support them is also available:

Fairer Fife Commission – Fairness Matters

Fairer Fife Commission members:

  • Director of BT Scotland, Brendan Dick
  • Director of the Glasgow Centre for Population and Health, Professor Carol Tannahill
  • Director of One Parent Families Scotland, Satwat Rehman
  • Director in Scotland of the Child Poverty Action Group, John Dickie
  • Professor of Strategic Urban Management and Finance, Professor Duncan Maclennan
  • Chair of the Scottish Health Council Committee, Pam Whittle CBE
  • Global Research Policy Advisor, Oxfam GB, Dr Katherine Trebeck
  • Director of Delivery, NHS Scotland, George Dodds
  • Stakeholder Manager (Scotland), Working Links, Nicholas Young

Dr Jim McCormick of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation acted as a special advisor to the Commission and Fife Council’s Chief Executive Steve Grimmond also attended Commission meetings.

Case studies from the Cottage Family Centre, Kirkcaldy

http://www.thecottagefamilycentre.org.uk/

John’s story – attends the Dads’ Group at the Cottage Family Centre

“My dad passed away from a serious illness when I was 12 years old.

“When he passed it seemed like I was the only one without a dad, all of my friends had their mums and dads and he was supposed to see me grow and progress in life.

“From an early age I started binge drinking with friends. Sometimes I would drink so much I couldn’t remember what had happened the night before.

“Looking back now I can recognise I had depression probably since my dad passed away. No one knew, no one asked.

“When I left school I had no idea where I would go in life. I felt forced to either get a job or leave home so I joined the army. Looking back this was not the right choice for me. I was in the army for approximately five years. When I came out I thought I would settle into life, get a full time job and have a family. I was applying for jobs and nobody was interested. Even with experience and training I could not get a full time job. Myself and my partner had a beautiful daughter and I was determined to provide for my family but unfortunately this opportunity never came. I continued to apply for jobs and continued to get knock backs. I was constantly having suicidal thoughts – it would it be easier if I wasn’t here. This wasn’t how I saw my life.

“My partner started attending The Cottage and I was not interested in being involved. Luckily she pushed and pushed and eventually I came down and met with staff who were very supportive and listened to me and asked what I needed. I was very low at this point and was contemplating whether to continue with life or not.

“I started attending the Dads’ Group at The Cottage and gelled with the other dads, I liked being with likeminded people who I could speak to.  I was offered the opportunity to attend local gym, Raw Anatomy and I thought of every excuse not to go that day but luckily with the support of Louise at the Cottage, I did and I have never looked back.

“Following a lot of support from Noel, the owner of Raw Anatomy and the team, I am now employed there and training people and hope one day that I can be the support for someone and help them to grow in confidence and improve their mental wellbeing. I’m still working on my own confidence and determined I will never be back in that place.”

Noel’s story – owner of Raw Anatomy

Noel spent time in the care system as a child after the death of his father, didn’t attain well at school and latterly joined the army. After leaving the army, he found employment but was subsequently made redundant. During this time he was living in a flat in the Tanshall area of Glenrothes which was run down and his mental health had deteriorated.

Noel had purchased a weight bench and weights from Argos and would use them underneath the flat in a disused basement area as something to try and focus on. His friends who were also unemployed, seeing the difference this made to Noel’s physical appearance and also as they had nothing else to do, joined in. Before long other members of the community, men and women of all ages, wanted to join in too. Together they would each contribute a £1 so that they could buy some other equipment as they all recognised that physical activity and coming together socially was improving their mental health.

 From this basement, Noel recognised that there were a huge number of people looking for support and that what he had started to improve his own wellbeing had also supported others to do the same. He took a leap of faith and thereafter Raw Anatomy Transformation Centre was born.

post

Fife kids speak out to help Fairer Fife Commission

As the work of the Fairer Fife Commission draws to a close, Commissioners have been hearing about how it feels to grow up in Fife.

The fifth meeting of the Commission this week was held in Dunfermline. The Commission, a group of independent experts from both public and private sectors across Scotland, has been brought together by Fife Council to challenge the organisation on the ways it’s tackling poverty across the Kingdom.

Five children from a range of different backgrounds met with the Commissioners to talk about their experiences of growing up in the Kingdom. They gave a presentation on how important it is to be Healthy, Happy and Safe and discussed a range of issues including the importance of being listened to, fairness and who helps keep them safe in their communities.

The children are all part of a group who meet regularly as part of the Children’s Parliament and had worked for two days to prepare for their meeting with the Commission.

Kurt, Connor, Sarah, Nicole and Saskia built a make-believe community from cardboard boxes to help explain to Commissioners where they felt safe, and created a power point presentation to describe their own life experiences. The children talked about whether they felt involved in the decisions about their lives, why it’s important that children are listened to, and what being fair means.

Chair of the Commission Martyn Evans is Chief Executive of the UK Carnegie Trust. He commented: “It was fantastic to listen to the views of the children who came along today and talk to them about their experiences.

“It was clear that all of them had put a lot of work and thought into their presentation and everything they’ve said will be considered by the Commission as we work towards forming our final report and recommendations.”

Over the course of a number of key meetings the Commission has been gathering evidence and hearing from organisations, including the council, about what is being done to tackle poverty in Fife.

Commissioners have visited learning centres, jobs clubs and voluntary sector organisations across Fife to gather information and evidence from people with an interest in making Fife fairer. Work is now underway to pull a report together that will provide the council with some practical recommendations, and ambitious plans and ideas for the future.

Fife Council Leader David Ross commented: “The council works with a range of partners to help Fifers affected by poverty and to try and break the cycle of poverty.

“We created the Fairer Fife Commission to challenge us, look at the causes of poverty and inequality in different areas of Fife, and make meaningful recommendations on ways forward. I’m looking forward to the publication of the report before Christmas.”

Added Mr Evans: “Our goal is to make sure that the recommendations we make will have a clear impact on the lives of people in Fife and improving the life chances of all.”

For more information on the Fairer Fife Commission go to www.fifedirect.org.uk/fairerfife

post

Fairer Fife Commission discusses links between poverty, communities and health

INDEPENDENT experts from across Scotland met in Dunfermline this morning to discuss links between poverty, where people live and the health of Fifers.

The Fairer Fife Commission is a group from both public and private sectors, which has been brought together by Fife Council to challenge the organisation on the ways it’s tackling poverty across the Kingdom.

Over the course of six key meetings, the Commission will examine what is causing poverty in different areas in Fife and make recommendations on how best to tackle the issue.

This third meeting of the Commission today focused on the relationships between poverty, where people live, and their health and well-being.

Chair of the Commission Martyn Evans commented: “Today’s meeting focussed on “Place” and “Being well” and how these areas can impact on people’s ability to move out of poverty. All the information we gathered from today’s presentations  will help us when it comes time for the Commission to make recommendations to Fife Council later in the year.”

The Commission heard presentations today from Head of the council’s Housing Service John Mills and Dr Edward Coyle, Director of Public Health for NHS Fife. Commissioners then discussed both presentations.

Added Martyn: “As a Commission we’re interested in how different organisations are working together to reduce poverty and inequality in our communities. It’s continually being demonstrated that there is a lot of great work going on.

“The organisations presenting today are focussing more attention, and money at a local community level which is helping make a difference to people’s circumstances in a lot of areas.

“However we have a real challenge as a Commission to make recommendations that aspire to make Fife a great place to live and work. We need to make sure that people will actually benefit from what we recommend and find feasible and practical solutions that will make a difference to people’s lives.”

Fife Council Leader David Ross added: “It’s encouraging to see the Commission making progress towards their goal when their report is published at the end of the year.

“It’s really important that we re-examine what we’re doing to remove the blight of poverty from our society.”

For more information on the Fairer Fife Commission go to www.fifedirect.org.uk/fairerfife

The Commission will meet six times over the course of the year focussing on issues including financial capability, welfare advice, transport links, employability skills, childcare provision, early years, educational attainment, health inequalities, housing and homelessness and addressing stigma.

Members are:

  • Director of BT Scotland, Brendan Dick
  • Director of the Glasgow Centre for Population and Health, Professor Carol Tannahill
  • Director of One Parent Families Scotland, Satwat Rehman
  • Director in Scotland of the Child Poverty Action Group, John Dickie
  • Professor of Strategic Urban Management and Finance, Professor Duncan Maclennan
  • Chair of the Scottish Health Council Committee, Pam Whittle CBE
  • Global Research Policy Advisor, Oxfam GB, Dr Katherine Trebeck
  • Director of Delivery, NHS Scotland, George Dodds
  • Stakeholder Manager (Scotland), Working Links, Nicholas Young

Dr Jim McCormick of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation will act as a special advisor to the Commission and Fife Council’s Chief Executive Steve Grimmond will attend Commission meetings.

post

Fairer Fife Commission members visit Methil Community Learning Centre

MEMBERS of a Commission set up to examine the root causes of poverty in Fife have visited a local Community Learning Centre in Methil to hear first hand how poverty is affecting people across the Kingdom.

The Fairer Fife Commission was set up last year as part of Fife Council’s commitment to build a better, stronger, fairer Fife. The Commission is independent and non political with members from public, private and voluntary sectors. It is chaired by Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust Martyn Evans.

As part of its work to look at how effectively poverty is being tackled the Commission is gathering evidence from individuals, groups and organisations. The visit to Methil was the first of seven the Commission will make over the next few months to hear personally from people whose lives are affected by poverty and their experience of the help and support on offer.

Chair Martyn Evans commented: “I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to meet with the Commissioners and who spoke so openly and honestly about their experiences. There were a lot of issues raised including the impact of sanctions, the cost of transport, how difficult it is to find a job in today’s climate and how the learning centre is providing great support and the opportunity to get together with others in similar situations.

“All the information we gather from these visits will help us when it comes time for the Commission to make recommendations to Fife Council.”

Fife Council Leader David Ross commented: “It’s really important that we re-examine what we’re doing to remove the blight of poverty from our society. The Commission will report back before the end of the year with recommendations on how we can better tackle this issue and put in place practical action to reduce poverty in our communities.”

For more information on the Fairer Fife Commission go to www.fifedirect.org.uk/fairerfife

post

Fairer Fife Commission wants to hear from you – Call for evidence to help tackle poverty in Fife

Groups and organisations across Fife are being asked to help with the work of the Fairer Fife Commission in its mission to improve how poverty is tackled across the Kingdom.

The independent Commission brings together senior figures from across public, private and voluntary sectors who will work over the course of this year to come up with some recommendations for change to Fife Council and its partners.

Now the Commission is asking groups, organisations and individuals to get involved in the fight against poverty by making views known and providing information and evidence.

Chair of the Commission is Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust Martyn Evans. He is urging people to get involved in the call for evidence and have their say:

“We want to hear from anyone with an interest in, and experience of, alleviating poverty in Fife to inform our work.

“The views and evidence we receive will be analysed and fed into our work programme. Our final findings and recommendations will also take account of a range of other factors, including any other available information, research and evidence.

“Your views could make a real difference so please help us by getting involved.”

Fife Council Leader David Ross called for the Commission to be established last year in a bid to create a fairer Fife.

He explained why it’s important to get involved: “We set up the Fairer Fife Commission to give us an independent and objective view of what more me can do to tackle poverty in Fife.

“Poverty is a blight on our society and something we should be ashamed of in a modern developed economy.

“The Council is working hard to tackle the causes of poverty in Fife. That is why we are working with businesses to create apprenticeships and training opportunities for young people, building affordable housing, tackling fuel poverty and investing in education.

“There’s a limit to what the Council can do on its own, but we need to know we are doing all we can and understand what other agencies and levels of government should be doing to tackle poverty.

“That’s why we set up the Fairer Fife Commission and why we need people to talk about their experiences of poverty in Fife. It’s important that people help the Commission paint a picture of what’s happening right now so that we can try and improve for the future.

“The Commission will be looking across Scotland for evidence of what is working and what is not. The challenge we’ve set for the Commission is to look at all the things we are doing and make recommendations on how we can do it better.

“We need people to talk about their experiences of poverty in Fife. It’s important that people help the Commission paint a picture of what’s happening right now so that we can try and improve for the future.

“The Commission will be looking across Scotland for evidence of what is working and what is not. Poverty in our society is at unacceptable levels. And despite the work we’re doing with our partners to create jobs, attract inward investment and support people through welfare reforms, people are still suffering.

“We’re doing great work – but it’s not enough. The challenge we’ve set for the Commission is to look at all the things we are doing and make recommendations on how we can do it better.”

As well as gathering evidence over the coming months, the Commission is having themed meetings between now and November. Last month the focus was on ways of getting more Fifers into the world of work with discussion around issues including youth employment, low pay, and how partnership working is making a difference to creating more opportunities for people.

For more information on how to have your say and to access or download the call for evidence form go online.

 

Notes to Editors

The Commission will meet six times over the course of the year focussing on issues including financial capability, welfare advice, transport links, employability skills, childcare provision, early years, educational attainment, health inequalities, housing and homelessness and addressing stigma.

Members are:

  • Director of BT Scotland, Brendan Dick
  • Director of the Glasgow Centre for Population and Health, Professor Carol Tannahill
  • Director of One Parent Families Scotland, Satwat Rehman
  • Director in Scotland of the Child Poverty Action Group, John Dickie
  • Professor of Strategic Urban Management and Finance, Professor Duncan Maclennan
  • Chair of the Scottish Health Council Committee, Pam Whittle CBE
  • Global Research Policy Advisor, Oxfam GB, Dr Katherine Trebeck
  • Director of Delivery, NHS Scotland, George Dodds
  • Stakeholder Manager (Scotland), Working Links, Nicholas Young
  • Dr Jim McCormick of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation will act as a special advisor to the Commission and Fife Council’s Chief Executive Steve Grimmond will attend Commission meetings.