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'Grass roots spirit' hailed

Published: 15 Sep 2015 09:22

Thousands push for fairer Scotland.

Thousands of Scots have had their voices heard in a national discussion about how to make Scotland a fairer and more equal country, Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil said today.

More than 1,000 people from voluntary groups, charities and businesses took part in a summer of Fairer Scotland public events, with social media platforms attracting over 10,000 visitors.

The listening exercise has raised issues such social security sanctions, the working poor, access to affordable childcare and housing, health services and education.

The autumn phase of the Fairer Scotland discussion will take place in town and village halls stretching from Stornoway to Dumfries. Almost 40 events have already been confirmed with 3,000 people expected to be involved.

Following the discussions, an action plan will be published in the new year that reflects the views provided by the people of Scotland.

Mr Neil said: "This summer, travelling up and down the country, I have seen at first hand the grass roots spirit come alive in our cities, towns and villages.

"It is mobilising thousands of Scots to attend Fairer Scotland events to tell us what needs to change to make people's lives better. Countless others have submitted their views online.

"It is important that we are an open and accessible government. People have become involved, shared their stories and made their voice heard loud and clear.

"Issues such as access to affordable childcare, fair work, the national health service and changes to the social security system have dominated the discussions.

"Throughout the rest of the year more people across Scotland will be invited to set out their vision of a fairer Scotland."

"All these views will help inform future Scottish Government's policies designed to tackle inequality and put in place measures to create a better country for all."

Joyce Duncan, Chief Executive of ACVO, the third sector Interface for Aberdeen said: "ACVO is delighted to support the Fairer Scotland discussions, which have generated great interest in Aberdeen. It's making a real difference by bringing together everyone to work together for a fairer Scotland. We would encourage everyone across Scotland to get involved too."

Kenny Murphy, Chief Executive, Fife Voluntary Action said: "This was a unique opportunity for local people, many facing extreme challenges and hardship, to have the ear of the Cabinet Secretary.

"I was impressed by their honesty and bravery when talking about problems they face such as health conditions, unemployment, benefit sanctions, homelessness and providing for their children.

"It was a moving experience for me personally and very humbling, and I know the Cabinet Secretary was touched by what he heard too.

"I look forward to seeing what proposals come out of this listening exercise to ensure Scotland becomes a fairer and more inclusive nation."

Notes to editors

Public discussion events will take place in communities across the country over the next few months. Details will be made available through www.fairer.scot

To join the conversation:

Send an email to fairer@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Follow us on Twitter at: @scotgovfairer

Find us on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/fairer.scot

Responses can also be sent by post to: FREEPOST FAIRER SCOTLAND