Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland

As President of Ireland, I am delighted to express my support for the Irish delegation to the 13th European Meeting of People Experiencing Poverty and my solidarity with the delegations from all members States represented at this important event.

Europe is currently facing a crisis which is not merely economic or fiscal in nature. There is also a profound crisis of democracy in Europe which is grounded in the alienation of so many people, across many generations but particularly young people, from the political institutions and the decisions that affect their lives. The economic and financial forces that shape their lives are frequently described as forces not amenable to accountability; they are speculative forces, neither accountable nor ethically sourced.

Parliaments are increasingly perceived as institutions from which power and democratic accountability has been leeched.

See Michael D Higgins’ full message of support and meet the Irish delegation here.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of the Glasgow City Council and co-chair of Glasgow’s Poverty Leadership Panel

11 July 2014

As Leader of the Glasgow City Council and co-chair of Glasgow’s Poverty Leadership Panel I want to extend my support to those attending the European Meeting of People with Experience of Poverty. Glasgow is one of Europe’s most vibrant, modern and dynamic cities, yet poverty is still a significant issue that our city and people face. Poverty blights too many Glaswegian lives and shuts off too many opportunities. Yet we’re absolutely clear that poverty is not a natural condition and that it can be overcome by concerted action.

The work of the Poverty Leadership Panel is our city’s way of taking a stand. The Panel brings together policy makers with people who are living in poverty. We think that this model is vital to all our work – and we urge others too to adopt it. It establishes the principle that power must be shared if progress is to be made and that Glaswegians with experience of poverty are best placed to determine what needs to be done. The Panel has identified priority areas for action and local partners are working together with local people on all of them. We know that such work can help to reduce poverty and we believe it will improve people’s lives.

Help make poverty a thing of the past in our great city, and beyond.

See Council Gordon Matheson’s full letter here.

Christina McKelvie, Member of the Scottish Parliament

Dear Paul, Louise, Danny, Caroline and Derek,

I’m writing to wish you all the best for your forthcoming trip to Brussels to attend the annual European People Experiencing Poverty Meeting. Reducing poverty and the suffering caused by it is an issue close to my heart. I strongly believe that it is vital that decision and policy makers should listen to – and learn from –  those who have experience of poverty and best understand the ways to tackle it. The annual meeting that you are attending in Brussels has played a valuable part in providing that opportunity in recent years.

The Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee recognises that European funds can provide valuable opportunities towards making positive change. In our ongoing work on EU Structural and Investment Funds, we have monitored the Scottish Government’s work in implementing the Funds in Scotland and asked them to report to us regularly. The Committee believes that it is particularly important that the people of Scotland can benefit from European initiatives, including those to address poverty.

I wish you well at the meeting, and invite you to share your thoughts on returning with my Committee so we can continue this important work together.

 See MSP Christina McKelvie’s full letter here

Nicola Sturgeon, Member of the Scottish Parliament, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities

15 August 2014

I am pleased to offer my support to the Scottish delegates Paul, Louise, Danny, Caroline and Derek and the rest of the UK delegation attending this meeting. The Scottish Government has a long standing commitment to tackling poverty and inequality through early intervention and prevention, work that is fundamental to building a fairer society for the benefit of all of the people of Scotland.

European funding continues to be very important in helping us to achieve our aims. So I am pleased that tackling poverty and social exclusion remain a priority for European Structural Funds in the 2014-2020 programme. Under the 2007-2013 programme substantial support was provided for barrier removal and employability measures in particular. While we recognise that poverty is strongly linked to unemployment and therefore will continue to focus efforts on providing tailored support to increase labour mobility and job opportunities, there are much wider factors which can affect someone’s ability to take part in society; including financial exclusion; health inequalities and child/social care barriers. These wider considerations will be built into future interventions and be targeted not only on individuals, but at a family, household and community level. Governance arrangements will increase involvement from a key organisations and representatives who are actively engaged in this area.

Finally I am especially pleased to offer my support for an event where those experiencing poverty are able to discuss these issues with politicians and policy makers. I know from my own experience how important it is to involve those with experience in shaping the solutions. I am sure you will have a productive meeting and I am keen to hear of the outcome.

Read MSP Nicola Sturgeon’s full letter here.

 Belgian Actress & Director Reinhilde Decleir sends message of support through a video

Actress & Director Reinhilde Decleir from Antwerp, Belgium, who directs and performs theatre plays with people experiencing poverty, sent a message message of support through a video on which she recites a poem by Geert Van Istendael, called “Poverty”.  The poem speaks about the rough reality of living in poverty and the urgent need to fight it.

See the poem Armoede here in Dutch. Watch the video here [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6tZMvNM4rA&w=560&h=315]


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