Big increase in those needing food help

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CHURCHES, community groups and welfare organisations have received the backing of Glenrothes councillors as they join forces to tackle the growing number of people requiring food hand-outs in the region.

The Gazette has learned that there has been a 30 per cent increase in people in the town needing help from a foodbank and charity food handouts in the last 12 months.

And those working on the front line expect the situation to get much worse when new government legislation such as the ‘Universal Credit’ which requires people to receive their benefits as a once monthly payment.

As benefit cuts take hold, experts are predicting the issue to escalate as many turn to payday loans as a short-term fix.

The various church and welfare groups in the town met in December to discuss a joint approach and how best to combine their efforts.

The Trussell Trust, a Christian charity and leading light in the administration of food banks in the UK has also been approached.

Since 2004 they have introduced over 250 foodbanks which work in conjunction with charitable groups and churches - their aim is for every town and city to have a foodbank structure in place in the near future.

Currently there are a number of individual initiatives with the YMCA and Samaritans amongst those providing food parcels to the most needy and churches in the town appealing for food donations.

It’s understood that the Trussell Trust has already received in the region of £1500 from one of the Glenrothes-based organisations to put the organisational infrastructure in place.

A spokesman for the Y said one of the main obstacles was to find a suitable venue in which to run the project and added: “This is where Fife Council can possible help, by way of funding.

“Due to the sensitivity of those needing the help, whatever organisation structure is put in place it must operate discreetly and offer confidential support to those who require it.

“There would also need to be a significant number of volunteers.

As the recession continues to bite, more people than ever are finding themselves spiralling deeper into poverty and with not enough money are facing tough choices as to whether they choose to eat or heat their homes.

At the Glenrothes Area Committee councillors were united in their agreement that the issues needed serious and urgent consideration but also there was a need to keep the initiative non-political, offering support and moving to secure Fife Council funding while allowing those organisations already in place to take the lead role.

Cllr Kay Morrison added that it was imperative that any such project operate in a low-key and discreet manner as to not attract undue attention to those who use the service.

Councillors agreed to discuss the in initiative further in the coming months as plans for the introduction of a Glenrothes foodbank develop.