What’s the campaign called?
Stick Your Labels! It is co-ordinated by the Poverty Alliance, the national network of anti poverty organisations in Scotland. It is designed to help raise awareness of the stigma that is associated with living in poverty in Scotland and to support people to take action against it.
What’s the point?
Stereotypes and preconceived ideas of the reality of poverty are barriers to creating policies that help people who are struggling on a low income. The National Centre for Social Research’s most recent British Social Attitudes report revealed that increasing numbers of Britons blame poverty on laziness. 54 per cent believe that social security benefits are too high and discourage people from finding jobs. This highlights the dearth in awareness of the realities of living on benefits, which has helped pave the way for increasingly punitive welfare reforms, which will make it even more difficult for many people to escape poverty. Negative media reporting is central to perpetrating many of the myths about poverty and undermines support for genuine anti-poverty policy.
Why should we care?
Negative reporting and rhetoric from politicians leads to an acceptance of poverty and the blaming of people in poverty for situations that are outside their control and normalisation of the discrimination of a group of people in society. People living in poverty are increasingly judged and blamed for their poverty which undermines their confidence and their dignity and creates more barriers to escaping poverty. Stigmatising people is not only cruel: it erodes understanding, is socially divisive and creates acceptance of a more unequal society with less support for redistribution measures.
Who else cares?
The campaign is the result of a six month working group that took place as part of the Tackling Poverty Stakeholder Forum run by the Evidence Participation Change project from Poverty Alliance.
The Tackling Poverty Stakeholder Forum is made up of senior level Scottish Government civil servants working on poverty issues, national and community based organizations across Scotland (including Oxfam, Child Poverty Action Group, Save the Children, Citizens Advice Scotland etc) and people with experience of poverty. All of the political party leaders in Scotland signed their support for the campaign in March 2011 (pictured, above). For more information please see www.povertyalliance.org/
Who are you targeting?
The campaign aims to raise awareness amongst the general public to create a better understanding of the realities of living in poverty. The main vehicle for this will be to change the way that the mainstream media report on poverty and challenging language that attach stigma to people living in poverty. Above all, we want to provide support for people who are on the receiving end of this stigma to actively challenge negative language when they see it and to create a stronger collective voice.
What will a better world look like?
A world where poverty is eradicated, and where the resources in a wealthy country like Scotland are used to ensure everyone can live a dignified life with full access to their fundamental rights. This starts with a better understanding of poverty leading to increased support for effective anti poverty measures at the UK and Scottish levels.
What can we do?
There is an urgent need to tackle stigma by challenging politicians when they use damaging language and confronting editors when you see negative reporting.
You can help take action by:
1) Like our Stick Your Labels! Facebook page and send round your contacts to do the same
2) Highlight our Facebook page on your website
3) Use the resources on the Facebook page to challenge negative media reporting/ challenge politicians who use detrimental language.
4) Write letters/e-mails to voice your concern
5) Pledge your support for ‘Stick Your Labels!’ by signing our statement.