Planting Trees Can Alleviate Poverty
Scotland announced plans to “plant millions of trees” along national rivers to preserve salmon populations. Salmon prefer cold waters and trees help provide shade during hot summer months. Planting trees alongside rivers also improves water quality, stabilizes riverbanks and protects wildlife habitats. Countries can use tree-planting campaigns to attain healthy rivers, which bring social, economic and environmental benefits that can uplift low-income communities. In these ways, planting trees can alleviate poverty.

The Value of Rivers in Low-Income Communities

Around the world, about 2 billion people rely on rivers as direct sources of drinking water, according to the World Wildlife Fund. In areas without electricity or water filtration systems, rivers can provide a quick and accessible supply of drinking water. Globally, “25% of the world’s food production depends on irrigation from rivers.” Rivers indirectly and directly supply billions of people with food and water. Therefore, it is vital to keep rivers and their surroundings clean and healthy. Dam development, rising temperatures and increasing demands for water to use on farms and in hydropower plants put rivers under more pressure than ever before. Protecting and conserving rivers especially benefits low-income communities by sustaining natural resources, like fish, that millions of people rely on to support themselves and their families.

How Trees Lead to Healthy Rivers

Planting trees alongside rivers can improve water quality by limiting pollution and runoff from nearby land. Trees stabilize riverbanks by binding the soil, which reduces the risk of riverbank collapse. Trees also absorb water and intercept heavy rain, which prevents flooding and excessive runoff. Entire ecosystems may arise from planting trees by riverbanks. Land animals form habitats in trees and surrounding wooded areas and species, such as salmon, that live in rivers benefit from the shade that trees provide. Planting trees protect and promote biodiversity in a time when many human factors threaten it. People, plants and animals alike benefit from rivers and rivers benefit from nearby trees. Planting trees can alleviate poverty by improving river health and the ecosystems that millions of people rely on to survive.

Scotland: A Plan in Action

Scotland recognizes the benefits of planting trees along rivers and aims to plant a million trees by 2035. Scotland’s plan involves planting several native tree species, which will preserve the country’s history and improve biodiversity. Fisheries in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, have already “planted 250,000 saplings” alongside the River Dee, which is a salmon fishing hotspot. Scientists found that rivers in the Scottish Highlands and uplands are too warm for wild Atlantic salmon in summer months when the fish swim “upstream to spawn.” Planting trees alongside rivers protects salmon populations and benefits Scottish people who rely on fish for food and income. With socioeconomic and environmental benefits, planting trees can alleviate poverty in places where people rely on rivers for their livelihoods and national success.

Healthy rivers are essential to ecosystems around the world and trees play an essential role in maintaining these environmental networks. As seen in Scotland, tree-planting campaigns can have great influences on preserving local and national wildlife. Planting trees can alleviate poverty by protecting rivers that support life and provide resources to millions of people worldwide.

– Cleo Hudson
Photo: Flickr

Child poverty rate in Scotland
Over the past year, the Scottish government has taken significant steps towards minimizing child poverty. The government’s recent initiatives come as welcome additions to the progress Scotland has made over the last decades in its fight against child poverty. Evidently, data from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) demonstrates that the child poverty rate in Scotland over the past 20 years has fallen to 24% by 2016/2019. This figure fares well when compared to neighboring England, where the poverty rate fell to 31%.

The Scottish government’s recently released “Third Year Progress Report” exemplifies its significant devotion to eradicating child poverty. In particular, one figure stands out: over £978 million ($1.3 billion) was given as direct support to families with children in 2020-21, with £118 million ($160 million) of that as a response to COVID-19. That being said, the government is not hesitating to ensure that Scotland pushes to eradicate child poverty. Its commitment shows in four major initiatives: the Universal Credit Uplift, Scottish Child Payment,Best Start Foods and Minimum Income Guarantee.

Universal Credit Uplift

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the U.K. government installed a £20 per week Universal Credit Uplift. This measure helps those at risk of poverty or within poverty to cope and recover from the pandemic. The impact of Universal Credit on Scotland has been notable, contributing to a 6% rise in the last year for residents. To be exact, around 480,000 residents benefited from the measure.

The Scottish government decided to take it a step further. In November 2020 and August 2021, it pleaded with the U.K. parliament in joint correspondence with the other devolved nations to extend the Universal Credit beyond its scheduled expiration of October 2021. Scotland’s government proposed the extension of the Universal Credit to continue into the long run, citing the long-term ramifications of withdrawing the uplift so suddenly. The joint letter to the U.K. Parliament indicated this, as the Scottish government noted how cutting the Universal Credit Uplift would cut social security payments in Scotland on average by £460 per year by 2023/2024.

Scottish Child Payment

The Scottish Child Payment consists of an added-on £10 per week benefit. Ever since it began back in February 2021, it has proven to be one of the country’s most instrumental and groundbreaking initiatives as Scotland pushes to eradicate child poverty. In fact, the JRF labeled the Scottish Child Payment as “the lifeline children and their families need” in addition to serving as “the most progressive policy brought in since devolution 20 years ago.”

As of August 31, 2021, over 108,000 children have benefited from the Scottish Child Payments. The policy has the potential to reach around 133,000 children, according to Scottish Fiscal Commission projections. The payment targets low-income families with children under age six. It consists of continuous added-on financial support for families in receipt of qualifying benefits to aid with the costs of childcare.

On top of these phenomenal results, the Scottish government has great plans for this initiative’s near future. Its first extension consists of making the payment available to children aged 6-15 by the end of 2022. The second extension commits to significantly increasing the Scottish Child Payment. Ideally, with a full £20 payment achieved by the end of this current Parliament.

Best Start Foods

One of Scotland’s best-performing initiatives to ensure Scotland pushes to eradicate child poverty is its Best Start Foods payments. The payments commenced in December 2018, and from then until May 31, 2021, contributed to exactly 179,575 families. Best Start Foods aids low-income families with children under age three to buy healthy food to maintain a sustainable living. Specifically, the payments consist of pre-paid cards made every four weeks which can purchase healthy food such as eggs, milk, fruit and vegetables.

In an interview with The Borgen Project, a Scottish government spokesperson elaborated on the August 1, 2021 decision to increase the Best Start Foods payment amounts from £4.25 per week to £4.50 per week. “For families with newborn babies up to one year old, payments increased from £8.50 to £9 per week. We are proud to say that these higher payments are now being paid to clients and as the latest official statistics show more than 85,000 Best Start Foods applications have been authorized providing low-income families across Scotland with payments worth £16.7 million. We are committed to making sure support is available so that every child in Scotland has the best start in life and are looking to widen eligibility of Best Start Foods later in the Parliamentary term.”

Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG)

The last initiative demonstrating how Scotland is pushing to eradicate child poverty involves the advanced talks of a proposal for a Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG). In a recent statement, Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison confirmed that the government is “committed to progressing the delivery of a Minimum Income Guarantee, which could be revolutionary in our fight against poverty… The policy is innovative, bold and radical.”

The following are key components of the proposed MIG:

  • The plan solely targets those in low-income status.
  • The MIG would cover tax reliefs, social security benefits, childcare and transportation services.
  • Robison claims the scheme would not replace secure employment or keep wages down.
  • The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), which forms the government’s steering group for the plan, suggests a “core entitlement” of £792 per month for any single person of working age or £1,224 for a couple. A further payment of £267 would exist for the first child and £224 for every additional child.
  • The IPPR aims to implement the MIG by 2030.

Looking Ahead

Scotland has made remarkable progress over the past decades. However, certain statistics demonstrate the necessity for the government to not slow down in ensuring that Scotland pushes to eradicate child poverty. Currently, a quarter, or around 260,000, of Scottish children live in poverty, and some projections indicate that this figure could rise to 29% by 2023. That is why it is imperative for Scotland to continue full speed ahead on its mission to eradicate child poverty.

– Gabriel Sylvan
Photo: Flickr

Recycling Efforts in ScotlandAs of March 2021, Scotland has provided £70 million, or $97,466,250 USD, to the new Recycling Improvement Fund. This will improve recycling efforts in Scotland and the world. Recycling can shield off climate change, help the environment and alleviate poverty, so funding will make a notable difference.

How Scotland Will Use the Funds

Across the country, local authorities are receiving encouragement to create ways to make recycling possible for their communities. Examples include advocating for waste prevention and reuse, fixing damaged reusables, establishing a routine for collecting, accessing the proper recycling means for items like electronics and using low-carbon equipment.

Roseanna Cunningham is Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform. She is fighting for each household’s right to make their own choices in the environment. Cunningham claims the fund will ensure that communities will have equal access to recycling if they choose to do so. Local authorities have recently voiced their opinions on ways to improve recycling infrastructure and ways to involve the communities. This is where the NGO Zero Waste Scotland comes in. This organization manages their applications, assesses their ideas and makes contracts. If an idea undergoes improvement, the fund will go towards supplying local authorities’ plans.

Motivation for Recycling Efforts in Scotland

Cunningham has stated that it is in Scotland’s best interests for society to focus on a circular economy founded on green-based job opportunities. In other words, the country will reuse waste as long as possible to preserve resources, but there should also be more local jobs with missions to preserve the environment. The country hopes to become a leading example to the world in time for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021. Many other leaders from Zero Waste Scotland have also voiced their excitement about the positive impact the funds will have on the economy. Even private sectors are becoming involved.

Scotland has the goal of increasing the recycling rate to 70% by 2025. In 2018, carbon emissions related to waste dropped by around 11%. In 2019, 1.1 million tonnes did not enter the landfill when 45% of households recycled. Also that year, local figures did something to improve recycling, resulting in a 17% to 68% rate increase. Scotland is ensuring the Recycling Improvement Fund will up these percentages.

How Recycling Efforts in Scotland Alleviate Poverty

Quality of life would improve for those without equal access to recycling because of green-based employment and education. Further, communities achieve social development when they learned about preserving their resources for as long as possible. One day, the earth’s resources will run out depending on the consumption rate. The prolonging of the use of the things that people use daily, like plastic, metal and paper, can keep poverty at bay.

As of March 2021, Scotland’s unemployment rate was 4.4%, slightly less than last year’s 4.7%. More recycling efforts could lead to more employment as well, through green-based jobsMore than windmills and turbines, types of green-based jobs consist of teachers, caretakers, bike couriers, solar energy installers, transportation services and overall services that benefit communities. Further, preventing contamination of rivers and land from trash recyclables solves a number of problems when it comes to drinking water, soil for crops, carbon emission and water pollution. This also addresses environmental hazards.

To involve the public in recycling, there are door-to-door recycling pickups, which offer money in exchange for recyclables. In conclusion, Scotland’s new program will prove to rely on the citizens to make the ultimate difference. As protecting the environment becomes a priority, so does poverty.

Selena Soto
Photo: Flickr

period poverty in the U.K.
Period poverty happens when people are unable to afford or access proper period products due to low income. The average period lasts around five days, costing Scottish people around $10 a month for period products. Period poverty is a global issue that is not receiving enough attention. The U.K. is the first country to take significant steps to reduce period poverty. Here is some information about period poverty in the United Kingdom.

Period Poverty in the United Kingdom

In 2020, more than 2,000 people took a survey in schools, colleges and universities around Scotland. The results showed that one in four respondents was unable to access period products.

According to a Plan International report from 2017, a British children’s charity, period poverty affects one in 10 British girls aged 14 to 21. Furthermore, 49% of girls across the U.K. admitted to having missed a day of school because of their inability to access period products.

The Effects of COVID-19 on Period Poverty

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, period poverty in the U.K. has increased. Before the pandemic, low-income British residents often accessed period products through schools or community centers. However, after the lockdown, they no longer had such access.

Bloody Good Period and Freedom4Girls, founded in 2016 and 2017, respectively, are two national charities that focus on improving the accessibility of period products and reducing the stigma around periods. Bloody Good Period distributes products to 40 drop-in services and groups in the U.K. and to more than 2,000 people each month. In 2020, both charities saw drastic increases in their products’ distributions. Before the pandemic, Bloody Good Period typically distributed around 5,000-period packs a month, but the number grew to 23,000 in the three months after March 2020. Similarly, Freedom4Girls’ production increased fivefold.

Scotland’s Efforts to Alleviate Period Poverty

In 2020, Scotland made history as the first country to make period products free for all. Monica Lennon, a member of the Scottish Parliament, introduced the Period Products Bill, which passed in November 2020. Lennon has been fighting for an end to period poverty since 2016 and was finally able to gain significant attention for the cause in 2020, when more girls began to suffer from period poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Scottish government funded the period poverty campaign with 5.2 million euros. Of this money, the government set half a million euros aside to deliver free period products to residents of low-income neighborhoods.

Additionally, the U.K. government has created its own period poverty task force. The task force’s main goals are to destigmatize periods, educate people on periods and ensure that period products are widely accessible.

The Red Box Project

Similarly, in Portsmouth, England, three women decided to start a movement to end period poverty. They sympathized with low-income teenage girls who could not afford period products and recognized that period poverty impacts both current and future mental health and well-being. It started its campaign, the Red Box Project, in March 2017. The Red Box Project fills red boxes with pads and tampons and gives them to schools. The Red Box Project has placed boxes in more than 2,200 schools, colleges and youth clubs. As word of the project spread, its founders started to push for governmental action against period poverty. As a result of national efforts, in January 2020, Britain’s Department for Education made period products freely available to all state schools and colleges in England.

The actions that some are taking to reduce period poverty in the United Kingdom should provide other countries hope as they fight similar battles. With passionate, driven residents and new legislation, women around the world can begin to live in peace.

Shamolie Panjwani
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 Vaccination in the U.K.The World Health Organization (WHO) officially labeled the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic in March 2020. This declaration pushed scientists and pharmaceutical companies around the world to develop vaccines. By December 2020, the United Kingdom, which includes Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, became the first country to approve COVID-19 vaccines for the public. To date, the U.K. is on track to achieve herd immunity, with close to 67% of its total population vaccinated with one dose and nearly 50% vaccinated with two doses. Although definitions of herd immunity vary, it generally involves vaccinating a majority of the population to reduce the spread of disease. Considering the success of COVID-19 vaccination in the United Kingdom, below are six facts about the current situation.

6 Facts About COVID-19 Vaccination in the United Kingdom

  1. The U.K. developed the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. University of Oxford scientists worked in collaboration with the English pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to develop this vaccine. In January 2021, an 82-year-old man named Brian Pincker was the first to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in England. The U.K. government currently has access to 100 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca and 50 million doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen vaccines.
  2. Vaccination programs vary across the U.K. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have their own health care systems and chief medical officers. As a result, vaccination programs and policies vary between nations. For example, Scotland first vaccinated residents in care home facilities, whereas England vaccinated community members above the age of 80. Despite these differences, all four nations generally agree on the priority list of people eligible to receive vaccines. They all follow the advice that the U.K.’s independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization gave them.
  3. The U.K. offers vaccines to certain age groups. The National Healthcare Services (NHS) in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland currently offer vaccines to people older than 18. However, NHS England currently offers vaccines to people older than 23. As the rollout of vaccines continues in the coming months, this age limit will lower. In all four nations, people under the required age limit can receive the vaccine if they have pre-existing medical conditions, including lung conditions, diabetes, kidney disease, etc., that make them clinically vulnerable to COVID-19.
  4. The U.K. offers vaccines to frontline workers. Across the U.K., frontline workers can receive COVID-19 vaccines regardless of whether they meet age requirements. Frontline workers include healthcare workers, social workers, hospital receptionists, mail carriers, funeral home directors and childcare providers.
  5. The U.K. will donate vaccines to other countries. In a recent G7 meeting in Cornwall, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged more than 100 million vaccines to countries in need. As a group, leaders of the G7 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, committed to donating 1 billion vaccines to countries around the world.
  6. COVID-19 vaccination in the U.K. can reduce poverty. At the beginning of the pandemic, unemployment in the U.K. reached 5% for the first time since 2016. This is a direct result of in-person venues and institutions closing for public health concerns. COVID-19 vaccination efforts can help reopen in-person institutions, reinstate jobs and lift people out of poverty.

Looking Ahead

Overall, COVID-19 vaccination in the United Kingdom shows success as more than 79.3 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. People receive these vaccines in community pharmacies, hospitals, local general practices and other vaccination sites around the country. As a result, the U.K. government is currently on track to vaccinate all adults soon.

In the words of British vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi, this constitutes a “fantastic milestone and cause for celebration.” As more people get vaccinated, the U.K. government will be able to ease lockdown restrictions and reintroduce a sense of normalcy in society.

Chloe Young
Photo: Flickr

Rights-Based Drug Policy
Rights-based drug policy has been increasing in popularity in recent years. In 2019, the U.N. Development Programme and the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policies collaborated with legal and scientific experts on a three-year project to develop guidelines for a rights-based drug policy approach. The International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy laid out recommendations that nations should follow regarding criminal justice, addiction treatment and pain relief accessibility in order to be in accordance with international humanitarian law. These recommendations include:

  • Ensuring access to all drug dependence treatment services and medications to anyone who needs them
  • Ensuring access to all harm reduction medication and services, such as those used to reduce the likelihood of overdose or HIV infection
  • Providing a reasonable standard of living to populations vulnerable to drug addiction
  • Repealing policies that strip drug offenders of their right to vote
  • Repealing laws that allow detainment solely on the basis of drug use

Worldwide, the most common approach to addressing drug use and trafficking relies on punishment. This is often in lieu of providing care to those affected by addiction and violence relating to the drug trade. According to the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy, punishing drug users and withholding addiction treatment and harm reduction services are violations of human rights.

Some nations have been reforming their drug policy to address community needs and uphold humanitarian practices. Here are a few success stories.

Britain: Controlled Treatment for Opioid Dependence

In 2009, the British government undertook a four-year trial where doctors used injections of the opioid diamorphine, in addition to counseling, to stabilize addiction patients who had not responded to conventional treatments. After just six months of diamorphine injections, three-quarters of the trial participants stopped using street heroin. Crimes that the group committed dropped dramatically.

Today, many British citizens suffering from extreme opioid addiction are qualified to receive diamorphine through the National Health Service. From 2017-2018, 280 patients received this treatment to recover from addiction. However, conservative attitudes about the treatment threaten to cut services. Experts warn that patients who are no longer able to receive diamorphine may return to street heroin.

Scotland: Saving Lives with Naloxone

Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a nasal spray that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Scotland began providing communities with take-home Naloxone kits in 2011 and issued 37,609 kits between 2011 and 2017.

The Scottish Ambulance Service recently rolled out a program to send Naloxone kits home with the friends and family of users after an overdose and train them how to administer the medication before an ambulance arrives to reduce the risk of death. Some Scotland police officers are beginning to carry Naloxone, though many are resistant to the practice.

Portugal: Humane Treatment for Users

In 2001, Portugal decriminalized drug use. Instead of jail time, drug users receive fines or have to complete service hours and/or addiction treatment. Drug trafficking remains a criminal offense.

To replace incarceration, Portugal increased treatment programs. As of 2008, three-quarters of those suffering from opioid addictions were on medication-assisted treatment. Since the policy shift, opioid deaths have fallen dramatically, as well as HIV and Hepatitis C infections. In addition, U.S. research studies indicate that spending money on treatment returns more than investing in traditional crime reduction methods. Portugal also implemented a needle exchange program to provide intravenous drug users with clean needles, which experts say returns at least six times its expenses in reducing costs associated with HIV.

Decriminalization did not lead to a rise in addiction and Portugal’s prison population is lower now than before decriminalization. Rights-based drug policy has flipped the script on addiction in Portugal. Criminalization exacerbates issues related to addiction, such as poverty. Rights-based drug policies are better at breaking the cycle of addiction and thus, alleviating poverty.

Rights-based drug policy means treating users with respect and providing communities with the resources they need to address the devastation drugs can cause. Adopting legislation in line with The International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy is a crucial step towards a scientific and rights-based approach to combating the worldwide drug crisis.

– Elise Brehob
Photo: Flickr

Victoria Heaney and Free Period Scotland MovementPeriod poverty is when women and girls do not have access to safe and clean period products and/or do not have the tools to manage their periods confidently. One of the many countries that face this issue is Scotland. Victoria Heaney created the Free Period Scotland movement to address period poverty in Scotland.

What Started Free Period Scotland?

The Free Period Scotland movement was created with the purpose to make period poverty a regularly discussed topic by Scotland’s government and continue menstruation conversations across the nation. In addition to placing pressure on Scotland’s officials, the research allowed women to admit the harsh reality of period poverty openly. The survey played a role in Scotland becoming a leader worldwide for period poverty protection. Scotland now provides free period products to all women.

Heaney’s interest came from the fact that this form of research is not common in Scotland. At the beginning of the study, she discussed on the podcast “The Snash with Jenny Cook” that she heard stories where women were using old socks as pads due to not being able to afford period products. When Heaney began researching the issue, no research was available on period poverty in Scotland.

Discovering a lack of research on period poverty was surprising because half of the world’s population menstruates. Heaney’s passion for this project led her to teach herself how to do a survey. Her survey focused on the quantity and quality of the experiences.

The Outcome

The Women for Independence committee conducted the research, which was led by Heaney. More than 1,000 women participated in the research survey. The quantitative findings revealed that nearly one in five participants claimed to go without period products because they could not afford them. The research also showed that one in 10 women had to choose between food and period products. In addition, 22% of participants said they were not able to change their period products regularly.

Not only did the survey produce shocking statistics, but it also offered a clearer picture of period poverty in Scotland. Heaney wished to use the research to better examine the stigma that surrounds menstruation for women of all ages. The study revealed that women over the age of 55 reported experiences that were alarmingly similar to teenagers. Free Period Scotland plays a significant role in the Scottish government’s legislative efforts and its bill granting free period products.

Looking Ahead

One of the many ways to help reduce period poverty is raising awareness of the issue, whether through research or social media campaigns. The more discussion about the negative stigmas surrounding menstruation, the more support will be gained in fighting against this global injustice. Victoria Heaney and the Free Period Scotland Movement have made tremendous leaps for women facing period poverty in Scotland. With support from advocacy groups, NGOs and the government, Scotland is taking one step closer to ending period poverty.

– Nyelah Mitchell
Photo: Flickr

 Poverty in Scotland
At only 19% or roughly 1 million people, Scotland has the second-lowest rate of poverty in the U.K. with only Northern Ireland beating it. What has kept poverty in Scotland lower than in other parts of the U.K.? Moreover, how can the rest of the U.K. learn from it?

Scotland Compared to the Rest of the UK

Scotland’s poverty rate has decreased from 23% in the 1980s to 18% in the mid to early 2000s. The entire United Kingdom sits at a 22% poverty rate and Wales has a 23% rate, while London has the highest rate of poverty of any area in the U.K. In comparison, Scotland has a poverty rate that is 3% lower. Poverty amongst youth is 6% lower in Scotland in comparison to the rest of the U.K., though poverty in Scotland has increased in youth by 3% in the past five years.

Scotland is lower in poverty in comparison to the rest of the U.K. but it is something that could change rather quickly. In February 2020, Scotland pushed for a new budget plan in order to increase the quality of life. The budget included £1.8 billion to help reduce emissions and push for better eco-friendly travel. The budget also set aside £15 billion for health care services, £117 million for mental health support and £180 million to close the attainment gap in schools.

Poverty Levels and Housing

The U.K. has a private renting sector, a larger sector of housing that is a primary source of housing for lower-income households. This housing is under private ownership and has seen a steady increase in cost since 2002. Private renting allows for the owners of said properties to continuously raise prices, putting a strain on lower-income households.

Scotland has not fallen into this trend, providing more social housing instead. Social housing is a form of housing that the government, state or nonprofits regulate to make sure rates stay at an affordable level and to help keep people off the streets.

Social housing allows lower-income households to maintain their homes, without fearing the strain of rent increases. It also allows people to keep themselves out of poverty while they receive support from the government.

In comparison to the rest of the U.K., more lower-income households in Scotland live in social housing than other parts of the U.K. Unfortunately, 45% of households in Scotland live in unfit dwellings, which could be due to household budget restraints.

Scotland has just passed a plan to ensure that all houses provide safe, warm and accessible places to live. The plan will ensure that all houses, whether rented or not, fit a national standard by 2040. This standard will ensure that regardless of how much the place costs, it will offer the same level of comfort and accessibility as other types of housing.

Unemployment and Wages in Scotland

Unemployment has steadily decreased across Scotland in the past 20 years. Additionally, Scotland has seen fewer layoffs while better work compensation has helped people stayed employed.

The U.K. increased wages by 20p in 2020 to £9.50 across the U.K. Scotland, in partnership with Real Living, is working with Scotland’s top employers, Brewdog, SSE and Standard Life Aberdeen to ensure living wages and benefits are in order and to keep those at risk out of poverty above the poverty line. The year 2020 saw an additional £240 million thanks to the partnership with Living Wages to ensure that those in need continue to get benefits as the COVID-19 outbreak continues.

Scotland, while not perfect, is a good example of ways that one’s government can help people get out and stay out of poverty. This kind of support from the government is not necessarily going to erase poverty, but it is pushing in the right direction.

– Claire Olmstead
Photo: Flickr

Period Products Bill in ScotlandOn November 24, 2020, a groundbreaking moment occurred that changed the struggle against period poverty. The Scottish Parliament passed the Period Products Bill in Scotland. This new bill guarantees free access to necessary hygienic period products to all who require them. Member of the Scottish Parliament, Monica Lennon, championed the fight against period poverty in Scotland and played a significant part in passing this revolutionary legislation.

Ending Period Poverty in Scotland

Even with the United Kingdom being one of the world’s wealthiest countries, period poverty remains a recurrent problem. In 2018, more than 20% of those polled in Scotland stated that they either had limited or no access to period products. Another 10% had to sacrifice food and other necessities to afford them. One in 10 experienced bacterial or fungal infections due to a lack of sanitary products. These rates have gone up to nearly one in four during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new Period Products Bill in Scotland practically eliminates these problems. Accessibility to sanitary products must be made by the Scottish Government and organized countrywide. Public restrooms in educational institutions must contain a variety of period products without charge and it also allows oversight over local jurisdictions to ensure enforcement of the law.

Ending Menstruation Taboos

Menstruation has become a stigmatized topic worldwide, despite half the population experiencing it. The dangerous and outdated idea that periods are not appropriate for discussion and seriousness is damaging to those subjected to these taboos.

From South America to Africa, antiquated menstruation views have led to long-lasting negative consequences for those suffering from period poverty. In some cultures, menstruating girls and women must separate themselves from the rest of their community. In Nepal, so-called ‘menstruation huts‘ have dire consequences for women, with local organizations stating that many deaths associated with the practice go unreported.

The importance of ending taboos about menstruation is evident. The Period Products Bill in Scotland is a meaningful step to engage the rest of the world over these unsound presuppositions of menstruation and begin addressing period poverty globally.

Implementing Period Poverty Legislation Worldwide

There has already been worldwide attention brought to the neoteric Period Products Bill in Scotland. Lennon has been fielding communications from leaders and lawmakers around the world, ready to implement similar laws in their own countries. According to Lennon, “Scotland has provided a blueprint and shown how it can be done.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, logistical problems of supplying period products and economic suffering are causing governments to reevaluate the impact of period poverty. Countries with strong infrastructure can utilize Scotland’s approach to combat the worsening situation fast and effectively. The rest of the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia have already taken note of the problem and Scotland’s practical policy.

Ending Global Period Poverty

In underdeveloped countries, Scotland’s lead in the battle against period poverty can pave the way for education and destigmatizing menstruation. Poverty-fighting organizations can create similar international implementation plans in developing nations with little investment. Thanks to Scotland’s leadership, period poverty may soon become as antiquated as the stigmas surrounding it.

– Zachary Kunze
Photo: Flickr

Aberdeenshire Addresses Child Poverty Problems

On September 8, 2020, Aberdeenshire City Council addressed their growing child poverty problem and created a plan of action.

About Aberdeenshire

Aberdeenshire sits on the northeast coast of Scotland, with a population of 458,000.  Known for being the home of Marischal College, the city is located approximately 120 miles north of the nation’s capital, Edinburgh. Aberdeenshire is Europe’s oil capital, supplying most of its population with work in the oil and gas sectors. Aberdeenshire is also called Aberdeen, due to its city being part of the historic country. However, Aberdeen holds a different independent council area that is within Aberdeenshire’s council.

Child Poverty in Aberdeenshire

In February 2020, the Aberdeenshire council announced that approximately 8,000 children were living in poverty. This rising number directly correlates to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the city and around the world. Aberdeenshire Council’s communities committee announced the citizens’ universal credit claims have risen to 75% since the pandemic started. This issue is not unfamiliar to this region, as more than 4 million children live in poverty in the United Kingdom alone.

Due to the closing of many businesses, there has also been a reduction in job availability and employment opportunities because of the limited number of vacant positions. Since the beginning of the pandemic, unemployment in Aberdeenshire has increased from 12.9% to 14%. The lack of job opportunities and the number of credit scores rising all contribute to Aberdeenshire’s citizens being unable to afford the increasingly higher costs of living.

Unaffordable living is a leading cause of child poverty. Instability in their housing often causes children to move schools and thus inhibit their continuous education. Children with unstable living conditions are far more likely not to finish their education and therefore have no way to escape poverty. In 2016, an Urban Wire Institution research project found that increasing household stability could reduce child poverty by almost 21%. The Aberdeenshire City Council addressed these numbers in a meeting on February 11th.

During the meeting, the Committee also mentioned that child poverty numbers were much higher in Aberdeenshire than in soundings cities. There are around 1,239 children living in poverty in Kincardine and Mearns since the virus, which is a vast difference from Aberdeenshire. Evidence suggests that these numbers are not getting any smaller. Scotland’s Poverty and Inequality Commission and Children’s Commissioner warned that child poverty rates could potentially “rocket.”

Action by the Council

The vast differences in child poverty encouraged councillors to take action to reduce the Aberdeenshire child poverty problem. On September 8, the council made the first concrete steps to create a child poverty reduction plan. In addition, the elected members decided to focus on the root cause of child poverty to address the problem on a more fundamental level. This plan creates and finds affordable living situations for Aberdeenshire citizens, therefore attempting to solve the issue of childhood instability and in turn promote an education that enables children to escape poverty. The city plans on combatting child poverty by helping its citizens make the most of their income and build people’s capabilities. While this could be difficult due to the ongoing pandemic, Aberdeenshire plans to boost employability and promote better choices for its residents.

Anne Stirling, Aberdeenshire Committee Chairwoman, said she’s happy to finally create programs that will “help people to maximize their income and get the support they require in terms of retraining.”

Mackenzie Reese
Photo: Flickr