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AOP urges community and politicians to come together to beat poverty

AOP members present cheque to Lions Club President

Action on Poverty, an Equality Rights Group (ERG) project formed in coalition with the Gibraltar Private Sector Workers & Pensioners Association (GPSW&PA) and the Community Branch of Unite the Union, has today presented the Lions Club of Gibraltar with a cheque for £500.

‘Nothing proves the reality of poverty in Gibraltar more than this. And we have to beat it! Too many people this Christmas are already feeling their children’s, their family’s, and their own disadvantage.

‘We’d like to urge our community to help Nazareth House raise the funds necessary to supply 350 Christmas hampers for those in need. The Lions Club, Rotary Club, Round Table and the American Chamber of Commerce are collectively appealing for donations (*see below for how you can donate), and this is just one example of the compassionate work civil society continually undertakes. And we take our hats off to them. In the same way, we urge all political parties to put vitriol aside and work together in the one direction of reforming the necessary structures to bring an end to the pockets of disadvantage that blight us in Gibraltar, and that have gone unrecognised for far too long.

‘We just cannot stop here,’ Spokesman Felix Alvarez added.

‘Because from our widening discussions with organisations and individuals in the community, we know for a fact that there are more and more people presenting themselves today with problems of real need. Hot meals, items of clothing, food and basic supplies, we are being told, are in increasing demand by the disadvantaged in our midst.

‘That’s why AOP says we have to reform the Social Security system, in order for it to be adapted to today’s needs and circumstances. Realities that have been growing since our Campaign first started two years ago, and that Brexit and Covid-19 are making more acute. This is filtering down to grass roots organisations on the front line.

‘We are grateful to Keith Azopardi and the GSD team for their significant Manifesto commitment to reform Social Security, and in particular for adopting AOP’s fundamental points for reform. Our discussions have been various and are on-going and positive as we thrash out important issues of concern.

‘We have also met with Government on several occasions, but yet progress is stagnant, despite a promise to establish a forum for exploration on all the questions. We continue to express interest in advancing engagement with the GSLP/Liberal administration, even though we have not been receiving responses in many months. Government, we believe, ought to be on the front line of concern on this matter.

‘We would also encourage Together Gibraltar to initiate steps in the direction of committing to collaborative policymaking on Social Security reform. There can be no progressive politics without fair and solid proposals for overcoming disadvantage in our community. We look forward to an invitation for furthering talks.

Lyana Armstrong, an AOP member from the GPSW&PA, spoke of the ‘concern we feel for vulnerable individuals in this community, not just at a financial level, which is already important and real enough, but in terms of the repercussions on issues of health which are driven from a base of relative inequality. The complexity of poverty expands the closer you look at it, and this is our experience in our growing engagement throughout the community. Furthermore, it is not a unique experience; the fragile future that awaits too many people post-Brexit and post-Covid-19 affects many countries, and that fact, in addition to our own economic concerns, is a worrying picture that we can’t afford to leave for some notional future date. We must all work together now to unite forces in reaching consensus for the sake of our fellow citizens,’ she ended.
*Donate to the Lions Club appeal via the following account:
Name: International Lions Club of Gibraltar
Account Number: 48165468
Sort Code: 60-60-60
BIC: RBOSGIGI
IBAN: G114 NWBK 0606 0604 8165468
PAYMENT REF: HOMELESS

Gibraltar Chronicle Campaign ad 14/3/19