West Glasgow Against Poverty (WestGAP) is an anti poverty charity and community advice centre based in the West of Glasgow.
They gave a talk on Monday 21st February at the Glasgow Uni occupation presented by two of their experienced volunteers. They are in need of financial support. More information including bank details can be found here: http://www.westgap.co.uk
If you would like to make a regular donation send them an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WestGAP is an independent community advice and resource centre based on Hyndland Street in Partick, Glasgow. We were formed over 12 years ago by a committed group of individuals who could no longer stand silent on the hidden poverty in the supposedly affluent West of Glasgow. We have been at the forefront of the fight against poverty in our local community and beyond and our independence means we speak the truth as we see it. We stand firmly on the side of those living in poverty, and challenge the negative assumptions and misconceptions of those living in poverty. WestGAP operates on a collective basis, and collectivism is our means and end of achieving our goals, as well as an active commitment to equality and intolerance of discrimination. At WestGAP, we want to help eradicate poverty and we believe strongly in effecting positive grassroots change as individuals and as a community. The changes we make, we share with the wider community in order to exert pressure on the policy makers who at present would confine many to a life of poverty. Our work in supporting and empowering those in poverty not only has a positive impact on those who engage in our work and services, but also on our workers’ lives, particularly as we all have our own experiences of poverty. Together, we aim to support our communities by engaging in mutual support and solidarity to help our voices be heard.
What does WestGAP do?
Our approach revolves around a ‘think globally, act locally’ approach. Our free, independent and confidential advice centre is currently the mainstay of our operations. There is a particular focus at present on welfare rights advice, ranging from disability and unemployment benefits, to issues relating to housing and council tax benefit, tax credits and homelessness issues amongst many others. We are looking to reinstate our money advice service too once we have advisors trained, as this is something until we recently we were able to offer. Our advisers are trained in house, but also by external professional bodies, and we have been certified by AdviceUK. Our training also enables us to train other organisations’ staff.
Additionally, we have been a key facilitator of community development, supporting other local groups but also providing a free meeting place with access to telephone computer and printing services which are also a particular help to our service users who do not have access to these in the home. We also actively support people coming together to discuss and act upon poverty issues facing them. A notable example of this was WestGAP’s role in organising the ‘Sold Down the River’ community conference.
Our partnerships extend to other organisations too. We are a partner in Oxfam’s UK Poverty Programme, Govan Resident’s Association and Community Council and Friends of Thornwood Community Park, a public space that WestGAP was involved in campaigning to save. Furthermore, the sharing of our own communities’ experiences of poverty has seen us be involved in the development of Stand Together, Oppose Poverty Weekend of Action and the West of Scotland Anti-Poverty Movement. Our grassroots information has also proved valuable to the University of Glasgow‘s own research on the impact of gentrification on those living in poverty in the local community.
WestGAP encourages everyone in its local community to take part in fighting poverty, and to attend seminars, training etc in order to enhance their own development and understanding of the issues facing communities affected by poverty.
The self empowerment we promote is a goal in its own right at WestGAP. We represent a safe space for individuals within our community, where individuals are free to talk about the realities of their lives, and where experience of poverty is the norm.