It’s now a year since the Edinburgh Poverty Commission was formally launched.  As we move into the final stretch of our work, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the journey we’ve been on so far, and the encounters that have shaped our thinking.

This blog is based on our interim findings, which you can read here.

When we began our inquiry into the causes of and solutions to poverty in Edinburgh we were determined to use the time we had to hear from as many people and organisations as possible with real experience of poverty.

Since November last year, we’ve had the privilege of meeting a huge number of citizens from across the city who have kindly given us their time to share their stories about poverty in Edinburgh. The stories we have heard have been vital not just in building a new understanding of what it means to be in poverty in this city, but also to shape the actions needed to end poverty.

In total, we’ve met with nearly 60 partner organisations, received over 120 written submissions and participated in 40 evidence sessions and project visits.

Throughout our process of inquiry, we’ve been exploring the solutions and changes that are needed to solve poverty in Edinburgh through three key phases – Pockets, Prospects and Places.

Each phase has included visits to community projects in all parts of Edinburgh, gathering evidence from citizens and support services on their experiences of poverty and commissioning research into the reality of poverty in this city and what solutions work best.

Although our final recommendations won’t be published until March 2020, we think it’s worth reflecting on our interim findings, which we think, the city should act on.

As we look to conclude the third phase and convene for our final meeting of 2019 next month, we have been sharing and discussing these findings with partners, to help gather more input, and to help form consensus on the steps Edinburgh should take to solve poverty.

So, what have we learnt so far?  We know that…

  • Edinburgh wants to be a compassionate city that looks after everyone who lives here. But to do so, people must have control of their lives and contribute to a city where we look after each other.
  • Poverty in Edinburgh is neither acceptable nor inevitable. While there is no credible solution to poverty, the city has many of the tools and influence it needs to end poverty.
  • Everyone in Edinburgh, regardless of their income or assets, has the right to be treated with respect and compassion in every aspect of their lives. It is inherently wrong that so many people feel that the city does not care about their wellbeing and feel trapped and exhausted by a system that does not help them to thrive.
  • There is no credible solution to poverty in Edinburgh that is not led by and delivered with the people those solutions are designed to support.

As we look to the future, we believe that to truly end poverty in Edinburgh we need to make sure that by 2030:

  • No-one in Edinburgh feels stigmatised because of their income or assets.
  • No-one in Edinburgh is destitute, having to do without the basic essentials they need to eat, keep clean and stay warm and dry.
  • Fewer than 1 in 10 people are in poverty at any given time.
  • No-one spends more than 2 years in poverty during their lifetime.

It will be a significant challenge to meet this vision, but by working together across sectors to think, and act, creatively and compassionately, we believe that we have many of the tools and the influence we need to enable the citizens of Edinburgh to live empowered lives free of poverty.

As we look to the future, we welcome your input so please do continue to engage with us and follow our work on social media. We’d love to hear from you.