I was most surprised to receive an email a few days before Christmas last year, inviting me to be a member of the East Lothian Poverty Commission. The purpose of the Commission is, over a period of about six months (Feb-July 2016), to gather evidence of the extent and nature of poverty in East Lothian, and to make practical suggestions as to how the ‘cycle of poverty can be broken.’
There are about 9-10 Commissioners, and we are chaired by the Principal of Edinburgh College. Some of the other Commissioners are equally as high powered, but equally some of us are living and working ‘on the ground’ in the County, often with those who have or have had lived experience of poverty.
I was invited to be a Commissioner as Chair of the Musselburgh Area Partnership, but what I do more generally as Church and Community Development Worker in Musselburgh gives me an insight into what it means to live in poverty in this area, and connections to organisations that are working with those who are in poverty. So I can bring something to the table!
My being a Commissioner also means that there is an explicit Christian presence on the Commission, something which doesn’t seem to have happened very often with the various other Poverty or Fairness Commissions that have been established in other Local Authority Districts.
I was delighted to be asked to be one of the Commissioners, and take my membership of the Commission very seriously. I hope and pray that the ideas we come up with at the end of the process will indeed be effective at helping to tackle poverty in East Lothian.