Help for families in crisis

Volunteers Jesse Duley, Carol Foster and Toby Foster with some of the food and gifts they have received. (Photo by Peter Adamson)
Volunteers Jesse Duley, Carol Foster and Toby Foster with some of the food and gifts they have received. (Photo by Peter Adamson)

With a shocking 24.8 per cent of children in St Andrews living in poverty and many families facing a food crisis this Christmas, the town’s foodbank is calling on anyone in need to contact them.

Storehouse, which serves the most vulnerable people across east Fife as well as St Andrews, has launched a referral service in a bid to make more people aware of the service and how to access it.

Rebecca Weir, who manages the foodbank, said: “We need to address the stigma and embarrassment people feel about attending a food bank. Obviously, we don’t want it to become a normal part of life in St Andrews, but at the same time we don’t want people who need it to stay away for fear of being looked down upon.

“We are working towards the day when we can close down the foodbank because demand has dried up. Until then, I would love to see much more effort go into preventative measures to avoid people reaching crisis points, e.g. budgeting and debt management, and social services responding more quickly to those in crisis. “

Rebecca added: “Storehouse’s referral service is open every Tuesday and Thursday from 11am-1pm and anyone can ask for a referral from our partner agencies if they are having to skip meals to feed their kids or decide between heating and eating.

“We want to break down the embarrassment and let people know it’s OK to ask for help. Most of us are in the position where, if our usual income stopped tomorrow, we would struggle to make ends meet quite quickly. You won’t be looked down on or judged, we just want to help you out.”

Storehouse’s website says that, although the St Andrews area appears affluent, the ‘End Child Poverty’ report published in October found that, when housing costs are taken into account, 24.8 per cent of children inthe town are living in poverty. This is the same as the figure for the whole of Fife.

The Below the Breadline report from June this year detailed that food prices have increased by 43.5 per cent in eight years, and fuel prices have risen 37 per cent in three years. It also states that 20 per cent of parents go without food so their children can eat on a regular basis.

Rebecca added: “We are very keen to see an end to situations like those, but while there are people in our community going hungry, we are responding by meeting their basic practical needs.

“Each food parcel will normally contain supplies for two-three days food, including items for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a few toiletries and household items, depending on what has been donated.

“We can provide bags specially for people who have no access to a cooking facilities and will do our best to cater for vegetarian diets on request.”

It is thought that, when it was set up in 2006, Storehouse was the first foodbank in Fife.

Based at the Vineyard Centre in Largo Road, it is supported by a number of local churches.

Rebecca said: “We already have such fantastic support from the churches and public in St Andrews that we have a pretty consistent supply of donations coming in and, if we were to receive more donations than we can distribute in the immediate area, we would pass them on to other areas.”

“You can always be assured that donations will go to people in real need because we have built up relationships with great local organisations like Home4Good and Women’s Aid.”

Other referral agencies include Families First, Rose Lane Centre, 132 South St, St Andrews, Tel: 01334 208086; Fife Women’s Aid, Tel: 01334 657460; North East Fife Credit Union, County Buildings, St Catherine St, Cupar; Citizens Advice and Rights Fife (CARF), Tel: 0345 1400 095; Fife Voluntary Action, Tel: 01334 654080 or visit www.