Fife Gingerbread slams council over lack of funding

Fife Gingerbread, the charity which helps families in need, has hit out at Fife Council over what it sees as a lack of funding.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 5:48 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st January 2019, 9:50 am
Supporters of Fife Gingerbread call for council funding.
Supporters of Fife Gingerbread call for council funding.

The news came from the cash-strapped charity at public meeting this week, where the co-leaders of the council indicated there was no room in their upcoming budget to help.

Fife Gingerbread supports around 253 families, which it says has been relieving pressure on Fife Council services for years.

Rhona Cunningham, CEO of Fife Gingerbread said: “I am frustrated beyond belief at this response after a year of briefings, draft papers, and business cases being produced for senior council officers across the council and elected members to highlight the need for us to be able to keep supporting these 253 families.

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“Everyone is sympathetic and agrees we need to continue our level of service, but everyone points to someone else as being responsible; another directorate, another party, Scottish Government, Westminster, it’s always someone else getting the blame but blame doesn’t help families.

“Areas in Fife already have some of the highest rates of derivation in the country, where is the appetite to solve this?

“I couldn’t believe that a senior councillor compared our situation to the recent library closures; how can you liken hardships to hardbacks?

“Right now we feel like an unvalued and disposable voluntary sector partner.”

Fife Gingerbread welcomed a £400,000 council scheme for holiday hunger provision, where the target is to feed 700 children a year during school holidays.

However, the charity criticised the council’s approach and said the £400,000 should be given to the charity instead.

Ms Cunnungham added: “The council’s proposal is to open schools during the holidays to allow families to come along and have a meal; however we have heard from parents who were part of the pilot that five families turned up during a two week period.

“Compare this to Fife Gingerbread, who had 117 holiday provision groups in summer 2018 alone which provided meals to hundreds of families and children, and we do the same during the other school holidays.

“Fife Gingerbread’s holiday provision is not a hand out or a soup kitchen, it brings families together in the community to play and have fun, but also have a meal and take food home.

“This just goes to show how out of touch and disconnected some council directorates are, and that they are most definitely not working in the spirit of the Fairer Fife Commission.

“If we had the £400k we could feed these children and do so much more, we could really make a difference to their lives.”

Kerrie Friel, a lone parent who received support from Fife Gingerbread in the past and is now a long-time volunteer and activist for the organisation said: “You never know when you will need help from someone like Fife Gingerbread; your relationship can breakdown, you can fall ill, you can lose your job, things like that can easily cause someone to spiral out of control.

“I thought I was going to spiral but Fife Gingerbread was there to help me pick up the pieces, I don’t know where I would be now without them.

“Fife Gingerbread is an insurance policy for all families in Fife; by not getting the funding they need Fife Council are cancelling the policy and this will no doubt lead to a huge impact on statutory services.”

The charity says it needs £600,000 to continue operating at its current state.

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