Fife Gingerbread celebrating 30th anniversary

Some of the Fife Gingerbread team.
Some of the Fife Gingerbread team.

“The purpose of any good charity is to work yourself out of a job.”

So says Rhona Cunningham, Fife Gingerbread chief executive, and she would be the first to admit being disappointed that there is still a real need for the charity.

Left to right, Heather McDonald, Mandy Galloway and Kim Paton. All received support from Fife Gingerbread.

Left to right, Heather McDonald, Mandy Galloway and Kim Paton. All received support from Fife Gingerbread.

Fife Gingerbread started three decades ago with the objective of supporting lone parents in the Kingdom.

However, it has since grown and evolved, and in 2016-17 it helped more than 1500 vulnerable and disadvantaged families.

That there is still a demand for its services means Rhona meets its forthcoming 30th anniversary with mixed emotions.

“It’s sad that an organisation like ours is still needed,” she admits. “In the time I’ve been here I’ve seen how the work we do has changed. When I started it was about connecting lone parents and helping them go to college.

“Now, the social isolation element is still part of what we do, but the level of need has been ramped up. It’s about helping people cope and survive in these austere times. The welfare reforms have had a massive impact on the families we work with.

“We are still here because we’ve been good at responding to the needs of the time.”

Fife Gingerbread runs a number of programmes to achieve its main aim of improving the lives of children.

Among the projects it runs are The Gateway, which offers family mentoring and supports families whose oldest child is between five and ten; Making It Work, which focuses on helping lone parents find employment, and the Fife Teen Parent Project, which supports teenage parents and pregnant teens no matter their circumstances.

These programmes run with financial contributions from larger funding providers and Fife Council.

“Last year was really tricky for us,” Rhona explained. “We had two big projects ready to end and no sign of money. We had a meeting with David Ross, then leader of Fife Council. We explained our situation and good on Fife Council because it found the money. It’s kept us afloat for another year.”

It’s for this reason that Rhona is calling on local businesses and fundraisers to support their cause.

She said: “This is our 30th year and times are getting harder. We fight tooth and nail for the funding we do get.

“I would ask if people are thinking about fundraising, they think about their local charities. Otherwise, good work that’s happening on their doorstep might disappear.”

To mark the anniversary, Fife Gingerbread has organised a series of events through the summer.

The Birthday Circus Festival will take place at Silverburn Park, by Leven, with 300 of Gingerbread’s families invited to a day of entertainment and fun.

Other events include a Sparkle Ball and parliamentary reception hosted by Jenny Gilruth MSP in September.