Peterhead hosts Poverty Summit

Chris White, chair of the Buchan Local Community Planning group, Annette Johnson, Tackling Poverty and Inequalities co-ordinator and Nick Brown, regeneration executive (seated) with some of the participants at last weeks Peterhead Poverty Summit
Chris White, chair of the Buchan Local Community Planning group, Annette Johnson, Tackling Poverty and Inequalities co-ordinator and Nick Brown, regeneration executive (seated) with some of the participants at last weeks Peterhead Poverty Summit

Peterhead hosted a ‘Poverty Summit’ this week to map out who is doing what to tackle the issue.

Around 40 representatives of various public sector and Third Sector organisations which provide frontline services to address poverty met at Buchan House.

Hosts Aberdeenshire Council’s Tackling Poverty and Inequality (TPI) team staged the event as a way to improve partnership links and develop new ways of working.

Councillors had heard earlier this week that Peterhead has a higher level of poverty than the Aberdeenshire average, writes the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

According to the national End Child Poverty campaign, 17.41% of children in Buchan were living in poverty after housing costs were considered in 2017 – higher than the Aberdeenshire average of 12.59%.

In the Buchan area, child poverty levels are equal across the three wards, however, the area with the highest numbers of free school meals and low income households is Peterhead.

Local data suggests within Buchan there are 546 low income households and 576 P4 to S6 pupils receiving free school meals.

During 2018, the Aberdeenshire-wide figures show around 7,023 children and young people were living in poverty.

TPI co-ordinator Annette Johnston assured the authority’s Buchan Area Committee that the issue of child poverty remained a priority target for the area’s Community Planning partners.

She told councillors on Tuesday: “The Scottish Government has explicitly stated a commitment to ending child poverty and the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 puts a statutory requirement on it to reduce the number of children who live in poverty.”

Various council committees are now being consulted on an action plan which go before full council in April for approval prior to submission to the Scottish Government.

Ms Johnston said: “Our approach within Aberdeenshire to tackling child poverty focuses on tackling the root causes and building people’s capabilities through income maximisation, employability, improving quality of life, helping families manage the impacts of poverty and promoting positive life choices.”

Other objectives for the one-day summit on Thursday included raising awareness of the work effort being carried out in Peterhead, increasing knowledge of the challenges faced, and identifying future action and priorities towards improving services.

The participants mapped out ‘who is doing what in the town’, explored the key issues, and then set about trying to find solutions to identifiable problems.

The group concluded that everyone has a common agenda and shared aims in tackling poverty in the town and surrounding area.

Chris White, chair of the Buchan Local Community Planning group, commented: “It was notable that there is a wealth of local agencies, organisations and groups in Peterhead who are thoroughly committed to the same aim, and it is comforting to know that there is considerable help available to those who need it most.

“However, it was also clear that, collectively, there could be better organisation and alignment, and access to services could be made easier.”

The summit agreed that there is a particular need for maintaining good communication across the services network in order to ensure that services are as effective as they can be.

The event was funded via the Peterhead Regeneration Action Plan and the findings will now be collated and reported to the Buchan Area Committee, Peterhead Development Partnership, and Buchan Community Planning Partnership in due course.

In the meantime, anyone interested in this issue should visit www.aliss.org and/or visit their nearest service provider.