Call to tackle poverty in north east Fife

MP Stephen Gethins and Toy Drive founder Victoria Leonard.
MP Stephen Gethins and Toy Drive founder Victoria Leonard.

The founder of a Christmas toy appeal and the local MP have teamed up to call for more to be done to tackle poverty in north east Fife.

Since it was set up in 2013 to help identify children who may not receive a Christmas gift, the North East Fife Toy Drive has seen a sharp increase year on year in the number of families needing support. Last year the charity provided gifts for over 500 children from 217 families living across north east Fife.

The largest number of children it reached out to came from St Andrews (105 children) followed by Cupar (65 children) Anstruther (45 children) and Tayport (39 children). Many referrals come from social work services, nurseries and schools.

This year’s appeal will officially begin on November 1, and to mark Challenge Poverty Action Week (October 7-13), founder Victoria Leonard and MP Stephen Gethins have joined forces to raise awareness of the issue of hidden poverty in north east Fife and the need for so many families to be supported and helped out of poverty.

Mr Gethins said: “Challenge Poverty Action Week aims to highlight the need to solve poverty by ensuring we can all work towards the creation of a just and compassionate society.

“Toy Drive is a great example of how a community can work together to make Christmas special for so many local children and their families who may not, otherwise, receive a gift.

“Many people across the constituency have been so generous in previous years donating to the collection point in the constituency office and at points elsewhere, and this is fantastic, but we know there is a huge issue with 19 per cent of children in north east Fife living in poverty as the most recent End Child Poverty report showed.

“We need to tackle the issue, bring people out of poverty and ensure children get the best start in life.

“Thanks to Toy Drive and all the agencies, schools and organisations making referrals, no child in north east Fife should be going without at Christmas.

“Many families are also being supported by foodbanks and I am very grateful to their volunteers and everyone who makes donations. Cuts to benefits and the refusal by the UK Government to make companies pay a living wage are all making life harder for so many families.”

Praising the work of Toy Drive founder Victoria Leonard, her colleagues and those who have supported the appeal, the MP added: “Well done to Toy Drive and everyone who supports it for all their hard work over the last seven years. Bringing a smile to a child’s face at Christmas is priceless and can make all the difference.”

Victoria Leonard said: “We are really grateful to Stephen for his support and to all the organisations across the constituency which act as collection points.

“Thanks to the generosity of so many local people, we will continue to ensure that all children referred to us will receive a gift at Christmas.”

For further info on Toy Drive visit www.facebook.com/ToyDriveFife.