No Range Rover but plenty of drive!

by Brian Scott, member of GRIPP and Poverty Truth Community

In November 2023 twenty-one of the GRIPP community came together, from across the UK, for 3 day residential – to reconnect, welcome new members, reflect and strategise. Much work was done, and plenty laughter was had. Here, Brian, one of GRIPP’s newest members, shares his reflections of the time together.

Hi everyone, I’ve been asked to write this blog about the GRIPP Residential held in Bolton during November 2023 – to short of put down my thoughts and impressions (and definitely leaving out the sweary words – blargh!!!).

Firstly, who am I, why am I here, where do I come from, what do I want (a Range Rover with heated and massaging driver seat if anyone’s offering)? 

My name is Brian Scott and I’m an anti-poverty activist with the Poverty Truth Community in Glasgow and with the APLE Collective (Addressing Poverty through Lived Experience) at a UK wide level.  I have been working on poverty and  human rights, especially child poverty, within Scotland for the past several years, so was asked if I’d heard of this group called GRIPP and would I like to take part in it.  No, I hadn’t heard of GRIPP, but it sounds interesting.  Yes I’d like to be part of it and, does it come with a Range Rover?

Group photo of GRIPP members, to on a zoom screen
Standing LtoR: Felix, Amanda (on zoom), Rhetta, Ibrahim (on zoom), Hinda, Angela, Brian and Charlotte. On floor LtoR: Susanna, Laura, Samar, Tracey, Eva and Vitalis

So, here I was in November, in the North of England (or the deep south as we in Scotland call it) about to attend my first GRIPP residential – full of trepidation with questions swirling about in my head.  What will it be like?  Will they be friendly?  Will there be cake?  Yes there was cake – I know my priorities (though no Range Rover had shown up yet – but I live in hope).

To be cantankerous I’m going to answer the second question first!  So, there!.  Were they friendly?  Everyone was very friendly and Susanna, Hinda and Rhetta went out of their way to make everyone feel welcome and supported.  In fact, I left that weekend with lots of new friends and, as a group, I felt we all really bonded.  I was called ‘a cool guy’ (thank you Angela!) and that left a warm, happy feeling within me that managed to get me through the hell that is the rail journey back to Glasgow.

The work done at the residential was intensive, especially on the second day.  The first day, was more of a getting know you space as I wasn’t the only newbie there.  That’s not to say it was easy.  Hinda had us doing exercise – yes exercise!!  This wasn’t mentioned in the description of the Residential.  To be fair, Hinda handed out sweets too.  Susanna briefly outlined what the aims of the residential were and how it would be structured. 

As noted above, the second day is where we put meat on the bones so to speak of the previous day.  Here we looked at the direction of GRIPP, what we wanted to do in the year to come, how to structure GRIPP and what campaign(s) direction to go in.  It was a fairly intense day and at times was emotional and hard work.  Though it’s to the credit of Susanna and Hinda who guided and supported us through it with their compassion and good humour and, we all survived – yeh.  Though many sweets and much chocolate were consumed – but it was worth it.  Glad to say no exercise was done to us on the second day.  Hinda can be a hard task master….

The third day was a reflection period of the last two days and ‘what next’.  There definitely was a collective feeling that GRIPP has a definite direction of travel for 2024 – looking at Poverty as a Human Rights abuse – and we now need to bring this to not only the public’s consciousness but, especially to our Politicians and Policy Makers and get them to acknowledge and act upon the abuses of poverty. There was a strong determination amongst the group to make this happen and that, as was said, ‘that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step’ and we had definitely taken the first step now.  So what next?  The next step is now to organise GRIPP into relative groups such as a ‘media group’, a ‘campaigns group’, an ‘organising group (or Trunk)’ to keep us on track etc. 

Now came, which for me, was the highlight of the whole three days – I got to sing!!!!  During one of pre-residential Zoom meetings Susanna outlined a potential structure for GRIPP as being in the form of a tree with roots, branches etc.  The way Susanna explained it reminded me of an old Irish folk song called the ‘Rattlin’ Bog’ (Diane – a Rattlin’ Bog is just a bog with everything in it – thank you for asking a question on the day I couldn’t answer – I’ll get you back!).  This is a song about a bog (obvious but I thought I’d point it out anyway) that had a tree growing in it (obvious again – see above) and as the song progresses you add different parts to the tree etc.  I need to learn to keep my mouth shut as this off the cuff remark led to Susanna suggesting (as in you will do it!!!) that I bring my guitar to the residential.  Have you ever tried carrying a guitar (in a hardcase) on trains – not easy.  Many heads where hit and many legs bumped on the journey from Glasgow to Bolton.  So I did get some amusement.  Have you ever tried trying to keep a straight face as you give a moany faced commuter a ‘dead leg’ as he pushes past you – not easy.  Thinking about it, I really should have brought my Ukulele!

On light blue background, the text in black reads "We are parts of something bigger". Around are seperate sketches of a nose, an eye, an ear, a mouth, another eye and another nose
by Daniela Yankova – shadowschaser

So that’s my thoughts, memories, reflections and bruises gathered over the three days in Bolton.  It was hard work and emotional but at the same time it was fun, therapeutic and cathartic.  And (I know you shouldn’t start a sentence with ‘and’ but what can I say I’m a rebel) And (a second one to annoy you) I left with many more friends than I started with (though with no Range Rover).  Make no mistake, the year ahead will be hard work.  Especially if there is an election called in the Spring.  But the motivation and drive is there amongst the GRIPP members.  We have definitely taken our ‘first footstep on the journey of a thousand miles’.  I’ll leave you with this last thought ‘BE MORE FRENCH’ (ask me when you see me).  Vive la Francais!

PS:  If anyone would like to donate a Range Rover (with heated seats, massage facility, heated front and rear windscreen and entertainment system – colour optional – but would prefer black with blacked out windows) my details can be provided.