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by Tom Freeman
19 June 2015
Communities to 'lead' on social justice

Communities to 'lead' on social justice

Community groups will be consulted over the next few months to inform long-term plans to make Scotland fairer, the Scottish Government has said.

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil is today launching the new ‘Creating a fairer Scotland’ project, which will see civil servants visit community groups across Scotland and seek out ideas to tackle poverty.

People will be asked what they think a fairer Scotland ‘looks like’ and ‘how we can get there’.


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Among those consulted will be voluntary organisations and public sector projects, charities, disability groups, councils, large and small businesses and trade unions.

It is hoped the discussions will build on community-led activity which has stemmed from increased political engagement following last year’s referendum on independence.

Speaking ahead of this morning’s launch at Kirkshaws Neighbourhood Centre in Coatbridge, Neil said the Government wanted to discuss issues like childcare, fair work and health.

“It is important that we are an open and accessible government. We want to tap into conversations many people and communities are already having throughout Scotland, rather than consult on whether or not people agree with a range of ready-made proposals.

“We recognise that it will take time to achieve our shared vision of a fair, equal and socially just Scotland. We are not looking for quick fixes or temporary measures but long lasting change that can benefit the whole nation,” he said.

Professor of Global Public Health at Strathclyde University and former Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns welcomed the move.

“By meeting and listening to the marginalised and excluded people of Scotland, they will hear in raw detail what it’s like to live with fear of violence, hunger, cold and addiction.  If communities are genuinely involved in shaping solutions to their own problems, those solutions will be enduring and effective,” he said.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said the launch showed potential for a new approach. “For once, we are not being asked to comment on plans that have already been made, or to pass judgement on some blueprint after it has been developed. By entering into genuine dialogue with people across Scotland we can begin to develop lasting solutions together,” he said.

An action plan is expected to be published from the responses by the end of the year.

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