A significant rise in the number of people relying on the Glenrothes foodbank has left the town’s MP both appauled and saddened.
Peter Grant, Glenrothes and Central Fife MP at Westminster told the Gazette that the latest statistics coming from the Trussell Trust, which confirm a 13 per cent increase in foodbanks across Scotland issuing emergency three-day food parcels, is a “damning indictment” on the Westminster government.
New figures show that between April 2015 and March 2016, the Trussell Trust Foodbank Network in Glenrothes gave 5644 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis. And 1920 of the supplies were given to children.
“These figures show that on a typical day 16 children in the Glenrothes area would go hungry if the foodbank wasn’t there,” said Mr Grant.
“This is a damning indictment of this Government’s policies. While foodbanks do an excellent job of providing for those who need it, I would prefer approaches to welfare and employment that support people out of poverty, rather than necessitating emergency food parcels.”
Mr Grant praised the volunteers who were giving up their time to help deal with the increased influx of people requiring assistance.
“While I wish it wasn’t needed, the staff and volunteers at our local foodbanks do an incredible job of supporting the most vulnerable in our communities and I am happy to help them in any way I can,” he added.
“I urge all local people who can afford a few extra groceries to donate much needed goods to this vital service.”
And while benefit delays and changes continue to account for much of the continued demand - 42 per cent of all referrals (28 percent benefit delay; and 14 per cent changes according to latest Trussell Trust research) - those in work with low incomes are also increasingly likely to struggle.
The problem of low income has risen as a referral cause from 22 per cent to 23 per cent.
Foodbanks, in the main, now report that the key issues that cause working people to be referred were that of low wages, insecure work, high living costs and problems accessing working benefits.
“The increase in those needing assistance is running slightly lower than the Scottish percentage but still a significant rise and therefore demand on the Glenrothes foodbank facility,” manager Jilly Gould told the Gazette.
“What we are seeing now is our clients needing a broader range of help and support, not just that of food welfare but also assistance with a wide range of other services.
“We are now looking at ways of how we can improve that all round support.”
Jilly added that while no one specific age group dominated the need for help, there had been significantly less engagement with the more elderly in the community.
“Possibly that’s a generational thing, pride may play a part, but we are seeking to tailor our support and reach more of the elderly in order to be able to help them overcome all manner of issues such as fuel poverty and other specific areas of concern.”