In the UK, nearly 5 million people live in persistent poverty. Many find themselves unable to afford the basics, unable to play a full role in society, and stuck in a downward spiral of increasing isolation, depression and hopelessness. Yet so often, the “services” aimed at providing support do not treat people struggling as equals and underestimate their ability to transform their own lives.
WEvolution, a Glasgow-based charity, believes that the most powerful change starts with a person’s aspirations, and that everyone has the capability to create economic and social value for themselves and their communities. WEvolution wants to disrupt how people struggling against difficult circumstances are supported by the welfare state, third sector and others; to treat them not as “weak and vulnerable” but as “equals and producers,” able to shape their own destinies.
In 2011, WEvolution helped a group of women to come together as its first self-reliant group (SRG). By collectively saving small amounts of money, they eventually started their own laundry business. The members saw their confidence grow, their mental health improve and their motivation to achieve their goals increase tenfold. The approach puts each member in charge of their own development, rather than providing a service that sets out a path they must pursue.
WEvolution built on this success and led the set-up numerous SRGs in Scotland.