Glasgow's Simon Community's Contempt for People in Poverty
by greum maol stevenson & daishin stephenson
Two years ago, this blog discussed how an organisation called Street Change Glasgow was treating people in poverty with contempt. Before publishing the piece, we emailed them our concerns, but they did not respond.
They are still at it, and they are pleased with themselves. Glasgow Live reports that they have been successful at persuading people not to give “beggars” money, but to give it to Street Change Glasgow/The Simon Community instead.
Sarah Hilley, author of the Glasgow Live article, did not respond to an email asking if “beggars” was the term used by the Simon Community, or if it was her word choice.
The arrogance of this organisation, who are “proud to have won Scotland’s Charity of the Year in 2020,” is astonishing. The article claims their purpose is to “improve people’s lives long term so they don’t have to beg.” What do they think gives them the right to decide what other people should do, or how their lives should be improved?
The Simon Community’s website says: “We help make positive things happen for people facing extremely difficult circumstances. Day-by-day, person-to-person, we tailor what we offer to what people need.” And of course it is they, not the person they have appointed themselves to help, who decide what the person needs.
They continue: “Everything we do is about and for people: the people we support, our staff, our partners and everyone affected by homelessness.” Why do they assume that anyone begging is homeless? Are they not aware that many housed people live in poverty? If this is news to them, we will be glad to show them around a housing scheme.
While bragging about their success in preventing direct donations of cash to homeless people, and in receiving about £10,000, they do not say what they have done with that money.
Here are some questions for the Simon Community:
- Are you volunteers or paid? If paid, who is paying you?
- What percentage of the funds donated to your drop sites is given back to the population you claim to help?
- How are the donated funds given to those people?
- Does every person receive the same amount? If not, what criteria is used to determine how much of the donated funds a recipient receives?
- Are you tracking payouts?
- Are you collecting private information about the persons receiving help from you? If so, what information are you collecting? Is the information being kept secure or is it being shared? If shared, with whom?
While awaiting answers, let us treat people in poverty as people, not problems to be solved.
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