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The Museum of Poverty at the Scottish Trades Union Congress

We set up our Museum of Poverty display at The Scottish Trade Union Congress, the coordinating body of trade unions,  and local trades councils, in Scotland. Together the few hundred delegates represent over 640,000 trade unionists.

The Museum of Poverty images stand in powerful contrast to the tables and tables of leaflets.

After setting up, I met with other organisations there, including the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) Women’s Committee, Unite and a government initiative around the health benefits of being in work. One stall sold goods from Palestine. All have much to say about child poverty!

On the first morning, Jim Murphy, Secretary of State for Scotland, came over to investigate the Museum. We talked for a short while, while cameras flashed. He is supportive and warm. He tells us that the government’s work on child poverty all depends on who gets elected, and wishes us all the best.

By the end of the 3 days I also meet with Alex Salmond, the first Minister for Scotland, and talk to him about the Museum whilst shaking hands.

Peter Willman later writes to me saying sorry the first minister was in a rush but he personally would add to the Museum ‘The ability to Identify Children by their Clothing’. We also meet Hugh Henry (MSP).  I’ve only just moved to Scotland and I’m in knee deep! Talk about a crash course in Scottish Politics!

I asked the STUC what they would put in the museum?

The STUC women’s committee talk to me about childcare, before settling on the difficulties and costs of visiting family in hospital, especially with children. They write a postcard and post it in the box. The Oxfam representative talks to me about poverty and health inequalities.

What did they think?

The audience is warm and has much to say on social (in) justice. Some of the STUC motions reflect our policy calls: financial transaction tax, increases in minimum wage and Job seekers allowance, and detailed measures to tackle fuel poverty.

It’s my first outing with the Museum of Poverty and we have got 11 cards filled out, met politicians and talk to loads of people about our work. Everyone really seems to get it and is happy to tell us what poverty means to them. With the van rammed full of gourmet campaigning resources, we drive off into the sunshine, back to the Edinburgh Office.

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