The Edinburgh Poverty Commission is only one of a number of groups working in communities across Scotland to solve poverty and create a fairer society.

This week, two of our commission members – Zoe Ferguson and Betty Stevenson – were part of a gathering of citizens and colleagues from our sister groups in Glasgow, Shetland, Dundee, and North Ayrshire.  The two-day session, facilitated by the Poverty Truth Community, focused on sharing the work all five groups are involved in, and hearing the stories and experiences of citizens in all our different communities.

What struck us most strongly from these discussions was that although there are aspects of poverty in Edinburgh that are unique, people struggling to get by in this city have so much in common with citizens anywhere in Scotland.  We talked about the link between mental health and poverty, about food and financial insecurity, about the need to change services that are ‘horrible and dehumanising’ to access, about in-work poverty and the challenges people face in earning enough to keep their heads above water.

Most importantly, the stories we heard this week were not just about sharing experiences of these challenges, they were about shaping change.  All the citizens we met – all of whom have their own experiences of what it means to be locked in poverty – are determined to drive change for their communities and the sessions were full of solutions both large and small, that will make a real difference to people’s lives.

We have taken away so much learning and inspiration from this gathering of new friends and fellow travellers and we’re looking forward to carrying on the conversations we started this week as the Edinburgh Poverty Commission moves into the next phase of its work.

Huge thanks to Elaine and her team at Poverty Truth Community for bringing us all together, and to all the fantastic participants and facilitators at Dundee Fairness Commission, Shetland Voices for Equity, and North Ayrshire Fair for All Commission.