What We Believe

Below is a statement of the values and beliefs that drive the work of the Poverty Alliance.


Poverty in Scotland

Our understanding of what poverty is and what poverty means is based on the experiences of those we work with, those who live with the effects of social injustice. For the Alliance poverty is relative and can only be understood in relation to the standards of living in a society at a particular time.  Poverty is fundamentally about a lack of income, but is also about what that lack of income implies: the inability to access a diet that provides for good health, or to secure decent housing, or to be able to take full advantages of the opportunities of education, living a shorter life and working longer hours.  And whilst poverty is about living with the effects of material disadvantage, it is also relates to aspects which are non-material – the inability to participate fully in society, to being treated as less or second class, to experiencing discrimination and stigma.  We believe that the fundamental drivers of poverty are structural rather than individual, and that in seeking solutions to poverty we must focus on addressing structural causes rather than perceived personal failings. 


Fundamental Rights

It is for this reason that the Poverty Alliance places its concerns within the wider framework of human rights, equality of opportunity and health, social, economic and environmental justice and the pursuit of sustainable development.



We are committed to the empowerment of people living in poverty and seek to promote this in our own practice as well as encouraging others to build this into their own practice.  Empowerment is a process whereby people can have more control and influence over the decisions that affect their lives.  For us it means individuals in communities working together to take action to address social injustice.



Despite some progress in reducing inequalities between different groups, poverty remains a phenomenon that some people are more likely to experience than others.  In carrying out our work we recognise that some groups; for example, disabled people, women, people from black and ethnic minority communities, are more at risk of living in poverty. The cause of this inequality has its roots in   both direct and indirect discrimination as well as structural causes.  We seek to bring an understanding of the impact of inequality to our work in addressing poverty and ensuring that the work we do reflects the differing experiences that people have of poverty.



We believe that poverty is not simply a problem for those who experience it but is the responsibility of everyone in society.  Our approach to tackling poverty is therefore based on partnership working between a wide range of civil society organisations, including trade unions, political parties, faith based organisations and businesses.  We also believe that the solutions to poverty do not solely lie within Scotland.  We therefore work in partnership with our sister networks across the UK, with other organisations and campaigns operating at UK level and with networks across Europe through the European Anti-Poverty Network.



The voices of those with experience of poverty are too rarely heard in debates about solutions to poverty and inequality.  We believe that people with experience of poverty should be involved in all aspects of our work, from the policy positions the Alliance promotes to the campaigns we are involved in.  We work to ensure that time and resources are available to ensure that these voices are heard.  In our own work we will continue to strive to ensure that those with direct experience of poverty are involved in the development and implementation of our activities.

We also undertake work to develop more open and participatory forms of policy development are created. Our primary focus is on the Scottish level, but we will also seek changes that ensure that people are able to have their voices heard at the local level.  We also work to embed more participatory approaches at both UK and European levels.


Organisational Independence

The Poverty Alliance receives financial support from a variety of sources: Scottish Government, Scottish local authorities, UK Government, our members, other charitable trusts and foundations.  Regardless of funding, we retain our right to act as an independent charitable organisation.  We are non-party political, and will work with all organisations that support our aims and our values.

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For more information contact:

Peter Kelly



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