Tackling the Stigma of Poverty: What have we learned?



There has been increased concern about the impact of stigmatising beliefs and attitudes about poverty in Scotland and elsewhere. Much of this concern has been stimulated by the increasingly punitive language that has accompanied ‘welfare reform’ changes over the last 10 years. Many anti-poverty organisations have had long standing concerns regarding the effective stigmatisation of people living in poverty that predate the current round of welfare reforms. Classing some people on low incomes as ‘deserving’ and others not, or attributing certain traits or behaviours to people on low incomes has a long history, and has a real impact on the experience of people in poverty, as well as shaping the kinds of responses we make to poverty.

The Poverty Alliance responded to the concerns of our members and of people with experience poverty by developing and launching our anti-stigma campaign, Stick Your Labels, in 2010. Initially focusing on the portal of poverty in the media the campaign then moved in 2015 to focus on addressing the potentially stigmatising impact of certain organisational practices. A series of organisational pledges were developed, and since then more than 60 organisations have signed pledges to address stigma in their organisation.

As part of the evolution of the Stick Your labels campaign the Poverty Alliance is now looking to learn from organisations that have been involved what they have done differently, and to consider what we can learn from other anti-stigma campaigns and initiatives.

The discussions at this event will help begin to reshape and plan the next stages of the Poverty Alliance’s anti-stigma work. It will be of use to all those concerned about the stigmatising effects of poverty, campaigners, community organisations, policy makers, and how they can be addressed.

Draft Agenda

9.30 Registration

10.00 Welcome & Introductions

Peter Kelly, Director, the Poverty Alliance

10.05 Why we need to address stigma: Activists panel

10.25 Are Attitudes Changing? Looking at the trends

Roger Harding, Director of Communications, NatCen (tbc)

10.40 Addressing Stigma in Renfrewshire:

Using Stick Your Labels Campaign

Annabelle Armstrong-Walter, Renfrewshire Council and

Rachel Thomson, Poverty Alliance

11.00 Discussion

  • To consider key issues with stigma and poverty – what is changing and what is not
  • To ask what organisations have been doing to address stigma in their own work

11.30 Coffee

11.45 Learning from Other Campaigns:

Challenging stigma associated with mental ill-health

Calum Irvine, Director

Stigma and drug use

Austin Smith, Policy & Practice Officer, Scottish Drugs Forum

12.30 Tackling Stigma: Where Next?

Final session of roundtable discussions to consider key priorities for future priorities to address poverty stigma

13.00 Close and Lunch