New poverty commission role for Queens Cross chief executive

Shona Stephen

Queens Cross Housing Association chief executive Shona Stephen has been appointed as one of eight new commissioners by the new Poverty and Inequalities Commission.

The Commission was established earlier this year as an advisory body to provide independent advice and scrutiny to Scottish Ministers around poverty and inequality.

Shona has spent a career working to improve the lives of local people through social housing management, increasing opportunities for vulnerable young people and in roles to tackle fuel poverty and homelessness.

She said: “I am honoured to be appointed to this post by the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, and look forward to bringing my 34 years of experience of working with, and learning from, individuals and communities who have been marginalised through poverty.

“This experience has deeply influenced my understanding of how poverty negatively impacts on people’s lives in so many ways, and will give me another channel to stress how important it is to build on the strengths of communities and individuals to try and change their futures for the better.”

Shona said that ‘Challenging Poverty’ is a central theme at the heart of the business plan at Queens Cross.

She added: “At Queens Cross we have used hard evidence gathered through tenant profiles to understand the issues our area faces to ensure our strategic direction and plans respond to them directly.

“I want to bring a similar evidence-based approach to my new post, bringing our tenants’ voices to the commission as an effective guide to how housing and housing associations can play a role in poverty reduction.”

The Commission has a vital role to play in guiding government policy, monitoring progress and proposing solutions to bring an end poverty and inequality.

“Policy needs to be partly shaped by those it is designed to help. It cannot be made in a vacuum from the top down, it must come from the grass roots up and that is a message I will be constantly leading with in the months to come,” Shona added.

Shona will be donating the fee for her work to the Garscube Community Foundation Community Chest initiative, which provides small grants to help open up more opportunities for young people in the area.

Cabinet secretary for communities and local government, Aileen Campbell, has appointed six more members to the Commission for a three year period. An eighth member will be appointed later this year.

The other new members are:

  • Linda Bamford - convener of the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland
  • Yvonne Blake - co-founder of Roots to Return and Migrants Organising for Rights and Empowerment
  • Alex Cobham - chief executive of the Tax Justice Network
  • Lindsay Graham - chair of All Party Parliamentary Group on School Foods ‘Holiday Hunger Task Group’
  • Professor Morag Treanor - professor of child and family inequalities at Heriot-Watt University
  • Douglas White - head of advocacy at the Carnegie UK Trust

Commission chair Bill Scott said: “I’m delighted to welcome the new members to the Poverty and Inequality Commission. Each of them brings a unique combination of experience and skills to the Commission which will be essential to the Commission’s role in advising Scottish Ministers, monitoring progress and promoting the reduction of poverty and inequality in Scotland.

“We are looking forward to working alongside the Scottish Government, local authorities, the NHS, the third sector and businesses to achieve the shared goal of reducing poverty in Scotland. Only when the evil of poverty has been eliminated will all of Scotland’s citizens be able to achieve the wellbeing and happiness that is their right.”

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