Associate feature: collaboration is key to reducing child poverty

Written by Martin Cawley on 9 November 2017 in Comment

Martin Cawley of the Big Lottery Fund says strong partnerships are key to the success of the Scottish Government's Child Poverty Bill

Martin Cawley, Scotland Director, Big Lottery Fund - Image credit: Big Lottery Fund

Over one million people in Scotland are living in poverty, and this is set to rise.

I believe that to have any sort of impact, focussing on the children who are most marginalised in our communities is a good place to start.

That’s why I welcome the recent Child Poverty Bill, which gives us fresh impetus to align our efforts and tackle the issue head on.

Ultimately, it provides an opportunity for collective action, collective responsibility and collective ownership.

Day in, day out, through our work investing National Lottery funding in communities across Scotland, our frontline staff see the impact of long-term and severe hardship on children and their families. 

We know that poverty affects people in all sorts of ways; not just financially.

There’s poverty of inclusion, of opportunity, and even of expectations and aspiration – a loss of hope and belief in oneself.

The bill is important, but it will be our actions that will start to address those poverty figures.

We are keen to share what we’ve learned about effective responses to poverty, across three different strands.

Firstly, the impact of individual projects such as those reducing fuel poverty, improving financial inclusion or connecting families to grassroots support.

The latter includes help and advice around parenting skills, early learning, youth development and play, and it’s this engagement that I believe develops and raises the expectations of parents and carers, which raises the aspirations of their children too.

Secondly, we support community-based initiatives to work more collaboratively to ensure that children, young people and their families do not fall between the gaps.

I’m thinking here of our Support and Connect investment – £19m to support communities to deal with increasing hardship through access to joined up initiatives, such as money advice services and starter pack projects.

More recently, we funded a strategic partnership between Oxfam Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, Nourish and The Poverty Alliance, to ensure that in Scotland, we move beyond foodbanks and tackle the causes of food poverty.

Thirdly, we fund projects that support the voice and lived experience of children and families in poverty to lead real change.

This aspect of our work is extremely important and formed a key part of our submission to the Child Poverty Bill consultation earlier this year.

Our funding is limited and, to maximise its impact, we know it needs to add value to the assets of our partners and communities.

We look forward to working closely with the Poverty and Inequalities Commission, as well as strategic partners and funded projects to help deliver the ambition of this new bill.




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