Help to avoid debt at Christmas

Volunteers Neil Jarrett and Kay Speirs at Cupar foodbank. (Photo by Dave Scott)
Volunteers Neil Jarrett and Kay Speirs at Cupar foodbank. (Photo by Dave Scott)

While Christmas should be a time of joy and happiness, many families who are struggling to feed their children on a day-to-day basis face increasing worries over how to provide a Christmas meal, let alone Christmas gifts.

It is at times such as these that the poorest of families are compelled to take out loans to provide for their families.

This situation has resulted in the manager of Cupar’s foodbank to issue a plea calling on families to seek their help, rather than going to the local sharks.

Fiona Findlay said: “While tighter controls on high interest loans will come into effect in April 2015, people taking out a loan this Christmas will not be protected from the exorbitant interest rates currently being charged and families will be plunged into deeper financial trouble due to debts spiralling out of control.

“As such, Cupar Foodbank urges families in need to avoid taking out a loan and to use the foodbank.

“We hope to provide a worry-free Christmas for families in need and, as such, the foodbank is working in conjunction with referral agencies to identify as many individuals and families as possible to receive a Christmas hamper, which will include some small gifts for children.

“This has only been possible due to the tremendous support we receive from public donations.”

Last week’s Tesco National collection highlighted the generosity of the people of Cupar and the surrounding area; approximately two tonnes of food which included lots of Christmas goodies.

Fiona said the Cupar Foodbank is also very fortunate to have been nominated as a Christmas Charity by a number of organisations including AVIVA, Scottish Natural Heritage Cupar, BNP Paribas, Dundee and the Fife Provost’ s Christmas appeal.

She said: “Week on week, we see families desperately struggling to make ends meet through no fault of their own.However, we are aware there are many families out there who may feel embarrassed about having to come to a foodbank.

“We are desperate to reach such families and to assure them of a warm welcome.

“We would like to encourage any individual or family facing financial hardship this Christmas to go along to Citizens Advice and Rights Fife, Fife Voluntary Action, their local council office or any of the five churches in Cupar; ask to be referred for a Christmas hamper.

Fiona added: “Our fantastic team of Santa’s helpers are already busily packing hampers to make Christmas that extra bit special.

Canon Pat McInally, chairman of Cupar Foodbank, said he would like to acknowledge the wonderful work achieved so far, and hopes no-one will miss out this Christmas.

The referral agencies in north east Fife are – Families First – Rose Lane Centre, 132 South St, St Andrews, Tel: 01334 208086; Fife Women’s Aid – 8 Lady Wynd, Cupar, Tel: 01334 657460; North East Fife Credit Union – County Buildings, St Catherine St, Cupar; CARF – Citizens Advice and Rights Fife (CARF), County Buildings, St Catherine Street, Cupar, Tel: 0345 1400 095; Fife Voluntary Action – Volunteer House, 69 - 73 Crossgate, Cupar, Tel: 01334 654080; and St Andrews Environmental Network.

You can also contact Fife Council at the County Buildings, St Catherine Street, Cupar or at Fife House, North Street, Glenrothes.

The telephone number covering Housing (incl homelessness) and Social Work is 03451 55 00 00 and is open from 8am till 6pm. The advice is to ask to be put through to the relevant service in order to secure a Cupar Foodbank referral. Housing – Cupar Children and Families Team Social Work Services, Welfare Fund Distribution Telephone Number – 0300 555 0265, and Frontline Fife.