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Source: Scotland – City of Dundee

Understanding the causes and effects of poverty at a national and local level in the wake of COVID-19 will be a key priority as the Dundee Fairness Commission re-launches.

The 24-strong group of experts brought together to tackle poverty in the city have released the ‘A Fairer Dundee After Lockdown – Relaunching the Dundee Fairness Commission Report’ which details the work the commission has been doing since it launched in May 2019.

Commissioners have laid out their thoughts as the commission looks to move forward and tackle poverty in the wake of COVID-19. 

This re-launch co-insides with Challenge Poverty Week, which is dedicated to showcasing some innovative and effective work that is being carried to help lift people from poverty.

The Commission consists of 12 people with personal experience of poverty, alongside 12 people with professional experience, including partners in the public, voluntary, community, private and academic sectors. This is about the real experts in the room, those with personal experience of poverty, being in a position to influence change. 

Danielle Hinton, Commission Facilitator, says “The key in this collaborative process is seeing each other, hearing each other, and speaking out together.”

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continuing to disrupt lives the commission undertook a survey to find out what issues people are struggling with, to hear their stories and find real and meaningful ways to make a difference.  

The survey focused on how people in the city coped during lockdown, specifically around mental health, physical disability, and food and fuel.

The survey received over 400 responses and is currently being analysed before being published.

Jacky Close, Director of Faith in Community Dundee (Commission Facilitator) said: “As with everything else, the Commission was paused due to Lockdown. However, we have regrouped and relaunched, the Dundee Fairness Commission Relaunch Report highlights the recent experiences of Commissioners and their thoughts as we move forward with the work of the Dundee Fairness Commission.”

Going forward, the Fairness Commission will be drilling down deeper, identifying the key challenges and concerns and returning to communities to hear what would make it better. 

In March 2021 the Commission will present their findings and recommendations to the Dundee Partnership and other key agencies in the city, with an expectation that these will be acted upon.

Trudy Mcleay, Chair of the Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership Integration Joint Board, Civic Commissioner said: “This pandemic has altered many things in life. For some it has brought greater challenge and for some opportunity.

“As a civic commissioner I feel we have been given an opportunity to refocus on areas which have impacted on our most vulnerable groups and we have renewed insight into what matters to people.

“Our fairness commission is back on track and I am pleased to be part of the group examining the effect on mental health as we have lived through this pandemic.”

Dundee City Council’s Fairness and Equalities Spokesperson Councillor Lynne Short said: “I was always invested in the work we were undertaking as a subgroup around food and fuel poverty.

“My experiences through Lockdown have cemented that determination to do all that I can to support communities to change the narrative we have in the city of poverty in these areas.

“The Menu for Change ethos of benefits, cash, food is encouraging and the right direction but there is still a need to go beyond and explore how more support can be given for these most basic of rights for any individual of food and heat.

“I look forward to working with fellow commissioners to take what we have learned and will continue to learn and feed into the wider narrative for long lasting change.”

MIL OSI United Kingdom