Friday, 28 November 2014

Hungry at Christmas


Local MSP Margaret Burgess has given her support to volunteers from the North Ayrshire Foodbank who have been collecting donations of food at the Tesco store in Irvine.

Mrs Burgess, MSP for Cunninghame South and the SNP Scottish Government’s Minister for Housing and Welfare, recently spoke-out about the rise in the number of Scots having to turn to Foodbanks to stave-off hunger, saying, “ In a modern country as rich as Scotland, we should not have people going hungry, and what is more shocking is that the trend is increasing, with most people citing Westminster’s welfare reforms as the reason.  This is a clear sign that these policies are not working.”

The North Ayrshire Foodbank, based at the Church of the Nazerene in Ardrossan’s Glasgow Street, provides sufficient food for three-days to people identified by frontline care professionals as being in crisis.  The non-perishable, in-date food is normally donated by individuals, local organisations and businesses.  People given a ‘food voucher’ by their doctor, health visitor, social worker, Citizens Advice Bureau representative or the police can then collect desperately-needed food from the Ardrossan facility.

The Trussell Trust, which operates the local Foodbank, has revealed that 71,428 Scots were forced to ask for food last year, with a third of the people seeking help from foodbanks doing so because of delays in benefit payments or benefits being sanctioned (stopped).  Low-pay is a factor in the rising number of people in employment but requiring assistance from foodbanks.

Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced the UK Government will implement a further £3bn of cuts to already-slashed Welfare budgets, which will inevitably impact further on the poorest members of society.  Mr Osborne indicated the cuts were necessary to deal with the national deficit, which was largely created by UK governments using public funds to bail-out private banks and financial speculators in the City of London.

Recently, the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party Welfare Reform Committee carried out an investigation into UK Government welfare reforms and foodbank usage.  The committee found there had been a 400% rise in the use of foodbanks in Scotland over the past 12 months.  One of the conclusions in a subsequent report published by the committee stated that “people are struggling to meet their basic need for food” due to the “direct action” of the UK Tory-Lib Dem Government.

The Scottish Parliament also calculated that the UK Chancellor’s further cuts to Welfare budgets will affect around 900,000 Scottish households, including many where at least one adult is in work but low-pay means they have inadequate income to survive. 

The Ardrossan-based foodbank is open between 11.00am and 1.00pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  The foodbank can be on 07411 113126 or by e-mail at nafoodbank@btinternet.com

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