Blog: Our Citizenship Policy

macneill_140124-74ARK Housing Association chief executive, Jane Gray, writes about how its Citizenship Policy came about.

Last month we launched the ARK Citizenship Policy. The policy provides an overarching framework for all person centred and outcomes focussed practice that ARK employs. It sets what we do in the context of social, civil and political rights and responsibilities. It elevates our thinking and places our daily work in the context of equality: and of course that immediately puts us in the realm of income, welfare and poverty.

Quite recently I came across research indicating that barriers to citizenship increased inequality: the greater the inequality the less the participation and the less the participation the greater the inequality.

The Scottish Government has set a challenge to create, amongst other things, a wealthier and fairer Scotland. As the Scottish Government and the Poverty Truth Commission 2015 report highlights this means tackling significant inequalities and poverty. The report states that ‘unless the people who experience poverty are able to shape the solutions…….then nothing will really alter.’

What does that mean for ARK a publicly funded organisation? The Disability Rights Commission in their 2005 report ‘Increasing democratic participation and active citizenship’ recommended that social and health care services should ‘set outcomes in terms of full citizenship.’ Promoting active citizenship must be core to our work as it focuses us on participation and contribution, rights and responsibilities, always aware that economic inequality distances people from political decision making.

Our job is to promote self-determination and a consciousness that expects an equal opportunity to participate not just in life style choices but in employment and in matters of community, and state.

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