George Square protester gets Glasgow talking about poverty

A stones throw from Glasgow City Chambers a one man tent is pitched, adorned with the motto ‘End poverty Now’ and Saltire flag waving in the high winds.

Inside is 25-year-old Darren Carnegie determined to raise awareness of the scale of poverty in Glasgow.

Sleeping in a tent in George Square for seven days and nights is no easy task and is not something everyone would decide to undertake, but for those living on the streets each day it is a constant struggle.

Despite the high winds, a distinct chill in the air and downpours of rain, Darren is tired but undeterred

“I’ve only been having one meal a day in respect for those who live on the streets and do the same every day, it’s been difficult.”

Darren Carnegie outside his tent and gazebo at the beginning of his 7 day protest
Darren Carnegie outside his tent and gazebo at the beginning of his 7 day protest

Darren and his Dad, Andrew Carnegie, are co-founders of Charity and food sharing network Glasgow’s Needy.

In recent weeks they have taken in large amounts of food donations at George Square and distributed them to food banks and those in need.

“My Dad started off running food banks at Christmas and New Year, handing out hampers and stuff like that. We went to protest the G8 Summit in Ireland, and when we came back I realised how bad the poverty in Glasgow is on a day-to-day basis and I wanted to do something to help.” Darren said.

  • Food prices in the UK have increased by 32% since 2007
  • There are currently 35 food banks in Glasgow
  • In Scotland 820,000 people are currently living in poverty
  • Over 71,000 people in Scotland have had support from The Trussell Trust (5 times the amount of the previous year)
  • More than 36,000 people are estimated to be homeless

Glasgow’s Needy are working hard to help the most vulnerable in the city.

“From last year until now it’s about 3,000 people we’ve helped, it changes from week to week and we do what we can.” Darren said.

“There needs to be a complete re-distribution of wealth, from the top down. This trickle down economy doesn’t work and needs to change, it’s not fair.

“We need a living wage, investment in social care and housing to help people of the streets. There needs to be tax breaks for the working poor, because working poor shouldn’t be a term.” Darren said.

It is estimated that around 400,000 people in Scotland are not earning a living wage, and moves earlier this year by Labour in the Scottish Parliament to implement a living wage of £7.65 across public contracts was defeated as it would clash with EU law.

Families shouldn’t have to choose between heating and eating.

Darren hasn’t been alone in his mission to raise awareness, over the week people have been visiting him in George Square bringing him cups of tea, talking to him about the levels of poverty in Glasgow or simply coming along to talk to him and keep him company.

Darren has also been keeping everyone updated with a video diary on the Glasgow’s Needy Facebook page, which has over 12,000 followers.

“Its been overwhelming and humbling, I took on this task because I wanted to get people talking about poverty in Glasgow and it has. It hasn’t been hundreds of people who have come to talk to me, its been thousands of people.

Glasgow hasn’t failed me, and I wont fail it.” Darren said.

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