Scotland Faith Leaders Urge Action on Poverty

Leaders from different religions in Scotland have come together to urge politicians to take action on poverty, saying that allowing more people to slide into poverty “goes against everything we stand for as a society”.

The joint statement, signed by representatives of the Muslim Council of Scotland, the Catholic church, Quakers, Sikh community among others comes at the start of Challenge Poverty Week kicked off this week.

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“In Scotland too many people are, right now, living with the constant pressure of poverty, including one in four children,” the statement read, Herald Scotland reported.

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“This goes against everything we stand for as a society. We need all those with power and influence to take action to boost incomes and reduce the cost of living.

“By doing this we can stem the rising tide of poverty.”

It continues: “Our experience of serving communities in Scotland and in hearing stories of our international partners reminds us of the pressing need to work for a vision of a world where hunger, poverty and the exploitation of creation are eliminated.

“Action is needed to bolster communities, to protect people living in the grip of poverty and whose voices are too often ignored, and to mitigate against the worst effects of global heating.”

Climate Change

Calling for a direct action to challenge poverty, the faith leaders also added that addressing global warming and climate change is also a key part of helping those most in need and that both crises are “linked”.

“We also acknowledge that these crises are linked, and that it is people who are locked into poverty who experience the greatest impacts of climate change,” the statement added.

“In the face of the challenges before us, Scotland’s faith groups share hope for a Scotland which is free from the grip of poverty, and one which responds to the climate crisis with the urgency it demands.

“This urgency must be matched by our sense of compassion.”

The statement has been signed by Omar Afzal, of the Muslim Council of Scotland; Lord Jim Wallace, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland, Bishop William Nolan, President of Justice and Peace Scotland Commission on behalf of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Scotland; and Elizabeth Allen, Clerk of the General Meeting for Scotland, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Also Reverend Neil MacMillan, Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland; Rev. Paul Whittle, Moderator of the United Reformed Church Scotland; Rev. Thomas R. Wilson, Chairman of the Congregational Federation in Scotland; Nicola Livingston – Chairwoman of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities and Charandeep Singh of Sikhs in Scotland.

Marked from October 4-10, Challenge Poverty Week “is designed to highlight that poverty is a problem we can solve, and to showcase solutions we can all get behind.”

The main aims of the week is to highlight the reality of poverty and challenge the stereotypes, showcase the solutions to poverty, and increase public support for action to solve poverty.

Muslims in Scotland are an ethnically diverse population. Although a majority of Muslims are of Pakistani (58%) origin, 16.8% are Africans and Middle Eastern, while 7.8% are White Europeans.

Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, has the highest Muslim population in the northwestern European country with 5% according to the 2011 census.

Though, Pollokshields and Southside Central are the wards with the highest concentration of Muslim residents – 27.8% and 15.7% respectively.