Turning Up the Volume on Poverty: a new report from the Poverty Truth Commission


From the introduction of ‘Turning Up the Volume on Poverty’:

For the last eighteen months, the Poverty Truth Commission has brought together two groups of people: some of Scotland’s most influential citizens and an equal number of people who face the daily grind against poverty. We have met ten times as a full Commission as well as more frequently in small groups.

We have laughed and cried together. We have expressed fury at senseless bureaucracy and hard-hearted injustice. We have marvelled at people’s ability to shine despite the problems they face, as well as their capacity for creativity and openness to new ideas. New friendships have been created – friendships which themselves demonstrate a different way of working. This is something we hope that this report demonstrates. In it we present key challenges but we also celebrate the incredible capacity of people and places that are far too often written off.

We have examined some of the biggest challenges that our nation faces: the growth of in-work poverty; the impact of welfare cuts; the stigma people in poverty experience; and the additional costs of being poor.

These were not the only areas we could have considered but, after a few meetings, they were where we chose collectively to focus our energy.

Our insights build on the work of the previous Poverty Truth Commission, including their concern for children in Kinship Care and finding positive ways to overcome violence. The growth of Foodbanks has also become an important aspect of our deliberations. Our work on the issues facing asylum seekers and refugees has just begun and we hope that this is an issue our successors will consider further.

The Poverty Truth Commission is not like many other commissions. We are not simply interested in gathering information, evidence and proposing what needs to change. Whilst we present clear challenges and call for change, we are primarily committed to being that change, seeking to demonstrate the approach and culture shift we advocate.

We are clear. Unless the people who experience poverty are able to shape the solutions, and not just be the recipients of the uninformed ideas of others, then nothing will really alter. This is about all of us. We present that simple thought as the biggest single challenge of 2014 – a year of potentially momentous significance in the history of Scotland.

To download the full report:

Turning Up the Volume on Poverty

The Establishment and How They Get Away with It, by Owen Jones (Allen Lane)


A new book, from ‘our generation’s Orwell’, which might be of interest to members and friends (Ed.):

From the book blurb:

In The Establishment Owen Jones, author of the international bestseller Chavs, offers a biting critique of the British Establishment and a passionate plea for democracy. Behind our democracy lurks a powerful but unaccountable network of people who wield massive power and reap huge profits in the process. In exposing this shadowy and complex system that dominates our lives, Owen Jones sets out on a journey into the heart of our Establishment, from the lobbies of Westminster to the newsrooms, boardrooms and trading rooms of Fleet Street and the City. Exposing the revolving doors that link these worlds, and the vested interests that bind them together, Jones shows how, in claiming to work on our behalf, the people at the top are doing precisely the opposite. In fact, they represent the biggest threat to our democracy today – and it is time they were challenged.

Owen Jones’ first book, Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, was long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award and chosen as one of The New York Times top 10 non-fiction books of 2011. In 2013 he received the Young Writer of the Year prize at the Political Book Award. He is a columnist for the Guardian and a frequent broadcaster.

Interfaith Week 2014

Interfaith Week 2014 takes place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 16 to 22 November; Scottish Interfaith Week runs from 23 to 30 November. The theme for the 2014 week is ‘Journeys’ …

Interfaith Week Resources

Interfaith Scotland


Lord Jesus,
you have taught us a golden rule:
to do for others as we would have them do for us.
A golden rule that is taught throughout religions of the world.
And yet the world is still divided unfairly,
race against race, culture against culture, creed against creed.
And while every faith preaches peace and justice
we go on sowing seeds of suspicion, seeds of prejudice,
against those who are different from ourselves.
God forgive us!
Challenge our sense of belonging
until our first allegiance is to the human race itself.
For your broken body still longs for healing,
Lord Jesus.

Brian Woodcock, from 50 New Prayers from the Iona Community, Wild Goose Publications,

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Stop the War Coalition

There are several articles on the Stop the War website which might be of interest to members and friends. A couple below (Ed.):

Ten reasons why bombing Iraq and Syria is no way to defeat ISIS

John Pilger: The war criminals in our midst who should be in the dock with ISIS

About Stop the War Coalition (from the Stop the War website):

Stop the War was founded in September 2001, in the weeks following 9/11 when George W. Bush announced the ‘War on terror’. It has since been dedicated to ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, bringing the troops home and forcing the British government to change its disastrous foreign policies. We have initiated many campaigns around these issues and are also committed to opposing sanctions and military attacks on Iran, supporting Palestinian rights, opposing racism and defending civil liberties …

We are open to affiliation by supporting organisations and individual membership for all those who support our aims as set out in our constitution.

Stop the War





CONSCIENCE: Taxes for Peace Not War

From the CONSCIENCE: Taxes for Peace Not War website:

CONSCIENCE: Taxes for Peace Not War, works for a world where taxes are used to nurture peace, not pay for war.

We campaign for a progressive increase in the amount of UK tax spent on peacebuilding, and a corresponding decrease in the amount spent on war and preparation for war. We also campaign for the legal right of those with a conscientious objection to war to have the entire military part of their taxes spent on peacebuilding.

CONSCIENCE: Taxes for Peace Not War









Illustration from the CONSCIENCE: Taxes for Peace Not War ©

Members, associates and friends

Debbie White: volunteer with the Iona Community in Glasgow

Debbie White, a university student in Glasgow, recently volunteered over part of the summer with the Community here in Glasgow. Debbie worked on helping the Community to create an extensive database of contacts for networking, and looked at our feedback procedure with guests. It was good to have the energy of another young person round the Glasgow office. You can read more about Debbie’s work and volunteer experience in an upcoming Coracle interview.

At one point, Debbie was able to take a trip up to Iona, and to the Solas Festival in Perth. Following are a couple of articles Debbie wrote during that time: about a week on Iona on recent research into St Columba and the Columban Church; and about the Iona Community’s contribution to the ‘gloriously diverse’ Solas Festival (Ed.):

St Columba Historic Scotland and Iona Community event


Photos from Autumn Community Week, from member David Coleman

Some more lovely, spirited David Coleman pics – of October Community Week on Iona:

Autumn Community Week photos

Community Week

Photo © David Coleman

Camas Diary: from the Camas blog

Take a glance through the wonderful Camas Diary, a blog written by Camas staff and volunteers, and get the lowdown on what’s been happening at Camas during the 2014 season. Find out about the recent visit of young folk from Cre8, Community Kids week – and much more.

Camas is the Iona Community’s Adventure Centre on the Isle of Mull, which welcomes inner-city youth groups from marginalised backgrounds, special needs groups, university students, schools, overseas groups …

Camas info


Photo from the Camas Diary ©

Vacancies with the Iona Community on Iona for the 2015 season

Are you looking for an alternative, counter-cultural and spiritually challenging way to live and work? Then consider joining the Resident Staff at our centres on the Isle of Iona, or at Camas, to share a common life and extend our ministry of hospitality to guests from all over the world. Being part of the Resident Staff at the Island Centres is not simply taking on a job – it is taking on a way of life, sharing in the Community’s ministry of hospitality and a common life of work and worship …

For more information and application forms


Iona gate © David Coleman

Come to Iona for Christmas!

Join us for the Christmas House Party on Iona, December 20-27th – celebrating the birth of Christ.

For more information and a booking form


Photo © David Coleman

Some Christmas ideas

Since we were talking about Christmas anyway, here are a couple of good ideas for Advent and Christmas, from the fairtrade shop Hadeel, and from Wild Goose Publications (Ed.):







Hadeel aims to provide a sustainable source of income for craftspeople working with social enterprises in the West Bank, Gaza, the Galilee and the Negev. For Christmas gifts and decorations from the Holy Land, including olive-wood hand-carved in Bethlehem – and many other beautiful craft items – see the Hadeel website

Hadeel was founded by Iona Community members Carol and Colin Morton, who worked in Palestine/Israel for many years.



Advent is a time of wonder and waiting – but that’s not a passive thing. We need to walk into Advent with our eyes open.

We walk through a world where wars are being waged and babies are being born. We are humbled by our inability to do much about what is wrong. But we do our best: to be kind, caring, to understand the meaning of mercy. We do our best to be even-handed, to act justly.

Words from the prophet Micah inspired this book. But it also reflects the words of a later prophet, George Fox: ‘Walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone.’ Join us on a cheerful, thoughtful, justice-seeking journey towards Bethlehem, a journey day by day through Advent.

Jan Sutch Pickard is a poet, preacher and storyteller living on Mull. She is former Warden of Iona Abbey, Vice President of the Methodist Conference, and Ecumenical Accompanier. Her books and many resources include Out of Iona: Words from a Crossroads of the World and Between High and Low Water: Sojourner Songs (Wild Goose). She is also a frequent contributor to IBRA’s Fresh from the Word daily reading series.

Walking through Advent, by Jan Sutch Pickard

Some vacant church posts which might be of interest

Some friends of the Community, who recently visited Iona, have asked that the following posts for ministers be advertised in e-Coracle: one in Orkney, the other in Ayr.


From associate Walker Fisher:

Are you looking for a place where the pace of life is that bit slower and there is still a strong sense of community? Our two lovely islands might be just the place for you!

We are seeking a minister who will:

• inspire and encourage us on our journey of faith

• guide our worship through thoughtful Bible teaching and prayer

• welcome and value all ages, skills and talents within our church

• reach out with us as we care for others in the community and share the good news of the gospel

For the parish profile

Enquiries can be made to the interim moderator, Martin Prentice: [email protected]

AYR ST. LEONARDS with DALRYMPLE (Church of Scotland, basis unrestricted)

From Pat Gibbs:

The Parish Profile is available from the Clerk to the Nominating Committee: Mr Alan Rosamond: [email protected] to whom all applications should be sent.

Informal enquiries can be made to the Convenor of the Nominating Committee:, Mr Pat Gibbs: [email protected], or to the Interim Moderator, Rev Kenneth B. Yorke: [email protected]


Prayer for local community, by member Brian Woodcock

We pray for the places where we live:
our own local communities
of people who never chose one another
but are nonetheless interconnected
in a delicate balance of public and private,
of services and shops, schools and streets,
of events and concerns.
We pray for the public-spirited, for local activists,
for noisy neighbours
and for those who hide in lonely rooms.
These people, these activities,
they are your gift to us.
And we are your gift to them.
Thank you, living God!

– Brian Woodcock, from 50 New Prayers from the Iona Community, Wild Goose Publications,


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