Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged to personally raise £50,000 for the Cottage Centre in Kirkcaldy.
His commitment came as he launched an urgent appeal after the centre revealed its Christmas campaign was now providing a lifeline of food and clothing to 800 local families – with that number expected to rise again in the new year.
When the festive campaign started six years ago, it helped around 100 youngsters.
And what started as an appeal for toys has transformed into a call for essentials such as food.
As more people fall into poverty and struggle to make ends meet, the demand for help has grown substantially every year.
Mr Brown visited the centre yesterday to thank its army of volunteers, and launched the 2017 fundraising campaign.
He said staff at the centre were doing a remarkable job, but they needed specialised support.
They were, he said. ‘‘at the sharp end of this crisis without the resources to cope’’
The former MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath – a long time supporter of the centre – highlighted the need for a teens club, more help for first-time fathers, and even a club for grandmothers to help them support struggling families.
It comes on the back of increased demand for help every year of the festive appeal, and with many feeling ashamed at having to ask for the basics to get them through the holiday period.
Mr Brown said what made the figures even more alarming was that the majority of the 800 children were from families where someone IS working. Zero-hour contracts, he says, in poorly-paid, part time jobs are now biting and causing extreme poverty.
He said: “The Cottage Centre is at the sharp end of this crisis without the resources to cope.
”It now needs to attract therapeutic counsellors to deal with an upsurge in mental health problems among both parents and teenagers who cannot get NHS appointments even when in urgent need.
“I am told locally that teenagers with mental health issues can wait up to nine months for an appointment and it often takes 18 months for adults to be seen.
“The centre now needs to fund a teenage club for adolescents who doubt their self worth, a dads’ club to help first-time fathers cope and a grandmothers’ club so that they can use their experience to help struggling mothers.
“Cottage manager Pauline Buchan and her team already do a magnificent job but some of the problems they are now encountering require them to recruit more specialised support.”
Mr Brown and his wife Sarah, joined the centre’s team of volunteers delivering Christmas parcels.
He said money raised across 2017 will be used to recruit the new support teams.
He added: “I hope that with public support we can relieve some of the suffering children will experience this Christmas and beyond.
“The parcels don’t just help relieve poverty but send a message to stressed out families that ‘someone cares’.
“A country that works for the many and not the few - a country where we are all in it together - is one where we do more for those hit hard because of low wages, insecure employment and the rising costs of bringing up children at a time when many benefits are frozen.”