Edinburgh College hosts conference to combat poverty and inequality in the capital

Tackling poverty and inequality in Edinburgh and across the country was the topic of conversation at a conference hosted by Edinburgh College yesterday (Thursday 14 February 2019).

Over 100 delegates from partner organisations met at the College’s Granton campus and combined to look at the impact of poverty and inequality in Scotland and what the Further Education (FE) sector can do to help tackle the problem.

The conference featured a number of key speakers throughout the day who spoke about what it means to be living in poverty in Edinburgh and the recent rise in child poverty, explained what the causes of people ending up in poverty were, and discussed the four Ps in relation to how the FE sector can help reduce poverty:

  • Pockets – Identifying and relieving hardship; reducing and removing costs
  • Prospects – Focusing on completion as well as access; improving quality of opportunities with employers
  • Places – Transport; housing; FE as co-location hub
  • Participation – Students with lived experience of poverty becoming co-designers and evaluators

During the conference the Scottish Government spoke of its plans to tackle child poverty as part of the 2018-22 delivery plan and Edinburgh College Students’ Association (ECSA) demonstrated the impact of poverty and inequality from a student’s perspective. The conference ended with an interactive session which involved delegates being tasked with coming up with three strategic actions on how the FE sector can improve its approach to tackling poverty and inequality.

Key speakers included: Jim Metcalfe, Chief Executive, College Development Network; Dr Jim McCormick, Chair of Edinburgh Poverty Commission; Councillor Cammy Day, Depute Leader The City of Edinburgh Council; Julie Sinclair, SAAS; Paul Tyrer, Scottish Government; Ella Simpson, Chief Executive, EVOC; Diarmaid Lawlor, Director of Place, Architecture and Design Scotland; Sarah-Jane Linton, Head of Faculty, Edinburgh College; and Sarah Hay, President, ECSA.

Jim Metcalfe said: “I really enjoyed attending the conference at Edinburgh College today, it was such an important event and it was great to hear from each of the speakers about the impact of poverty and inequality on our society.

“We learned about how in Edinburgh, there are 80,000 people living in poverty, with 1 in 5 children growing up in households below the poverty threshold. It’s not right there are so many people living in poverty and these statistics show how much work there is to be done to tackle this problem.”

Sarah-Jane Linton said: “It was an honour to speak on the same platform as our colleagues from the College Development Network and the Poverty Commission yesterday. It was a fantastic opportunity to get together and discuss what the FE sector, third sector and local authorities can do collaboratively to help reverse the continuing rise of those living in poverty. It was an important and inspiring day to see so many organisations commit to joint working to eradicate poverty and inequality.”

You can view the following presentations from the Tacking Poverty and Inequality Conference here:

Solving Poverty, approaches in Further Education – Jim McCormick

Poverty in Edinburgh – Councillor Cammy Day

SAAS Child Poverty Action Plan – Julie Sinclair

Barriers to Further Education – Edinburgh College Students’ Association (ECSA)

The Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2018-2022 – Paul Tryer

Widening Access to Eradicate Poverty – Sarah-Jane Linton