Poverty groups call on politicians to play the game
David Eyre UK Poverty Press Officer
7th Sep 2012
A huge board game showing how easy it is to fall in and out of poverty was played in Scotland for the first time today.
'Climbing Out Of Poverty' is a 20-foot square game of snakes and ladders. Players go up when they land on events that help them out of poverty - like good job training. They go down when they face hardships like health problems caused by not being able to find work.
The game's aim is to get a job offering decent pay and conditions and a sense of dignity.
It has been brought to Scotland by Oxfam partners, the Clydebank Independent Resource Centre - a welfare rights service in West Dunbartonshire.
Danny McCafferty, chair of Clydebank IRC, said: "The idea behind the game is to show poverty isn't just something that affects people overseas - it's here on our doorstep.
"By playing the game, people can see how easy it is to fall into poverty and how difficult it can be to get out of it. It can happen to anyone - especially in the current economic climate.
"Nearly everyone in Scotland will know someone among their friends or family who are struggling because of lack of money, lack of opportunities or lack of respect.
"The game shows that the causes of poverty are in the structures of the society we live in. If we want to have fair play for all, we need to change the game itself."
The game was unveiled in Three Queens Square in Clydebank. Several Scottish anti-poverty groups came together for the event.
Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: "We work to tackle poverty at home as well as abroad, and one lesson we've learned from our work around the globe is the importance of social protection like welfare benefits.
"That's why we work as partners with the Clydebank IRC. They do fantastic work helping people in West Dunbartonshire who are struggling with the benefits system.
"The 'Climbing Out Of Poverty' game is a great way of showing the problems thousands of people across Scotland face on a daily basis and forcing people to ask questions about the way the benefits system is structured."
Sarah Welford, of The Poverty Alliance, said: "The Poverty Alliance fully supports the absolutely vital work that Clydebank IRC carries out in supporting people to access their fundamental rights within the benefits system. With rising levels of poverty and a benefits system going through upheaval, this work is now more in need than ever.
"The 'Climbing Out Of Poverty' game is a great way of raising awareness around how easy it can be to fall into poverty and how difficult it can be to climb back out of it and highlights the structural barriers that can stand in the way of people progressing in their lives."
Supporting the event, John Dickie, head of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said: "Events like this are vital in raising awareness of the unprecedented pressures families in West Dunbartonshire and across Scotland are under as benefits are cut, jobs are lost, wages stagnate and prices for food and fuel soar.
"Politicians need to support not stigmatise struggling families and back services like Cydebank IRC that help families get the financial support they are still entitled to."
Stephen Boyd, assistant general secretary of the STUC, said: "The development of effective policy continues to be undermined by persistent myths about the nature and causes of poverty and unemployment.
"Clydebank Independent Resource Centre is to be congratulated for highlighting in a creative way both the challenges facing people in poverty and the measures that can make a genuine difference. Government at all levels must respond positively and a good start would be sufficient funding of outstanding community based organisations like Clydebank IRC."
Following the launch of the game, Clydebank IRC plans to use it in their campaign work and loan it out to other organisations who want to highlight the issue of poverty in Scotland. It will also be used in schools as part of Clydebank IRC's education and outreach work.
Find out more about the Clydebank Independent Resource Centre and about Oxfam's work in combating poverty in the UK.