Christmas appeal: Cottage Centre set for marathon delivery day to help 1600 youngsters

A huge delivery operation is set to get underway this week to ensure families across Kirkcaldy are not forgotten about this Christmas.

Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 2:49 pm

The Cottage Centre’s annual appeal has closed, and on Thursday, an army of volunteers will begin distributing boxes of food and gifts to support close to 2000 children.

It is the single biggest appeal yet - underlining the growing numbers of people who are trapped in poverty as a result of lockdown and the loss of the Universal Credit top-up.

But despite the soaring cries for help, the centre is committed to making sure that no-one is missed out.

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Pauline Buchan launches the Cottage Centre's 2021 Christmas appeal (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

The frontline charity launched its £45,000 appeal and aimed to hit that target within 40 days as it revealed the extent of poverty across the town.

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As well as donations of toys and clothes, the Cottage Centre worked overtime to give each family a ten-day survival pack of food to get them through the festive period when many services are closed.

And the appeal also ensured that families are able to stay warm by giving them cards to keep the heating on.

Leigh Shearer with Kingdom Housing Association's donation to the Cottage Centre

The massive fundraiser came at a time when those with next to nothing are suffering the most as utility bills soar, the cost of food rises, and they come to terms with the £20 top-up Universal Credit payment being turned off.

And for many, this will be the first time they have ever experienced such a nightmare scenario.

The appeal was even bigger than the operation launched during lockdown in 2020, with the Cottage team determined that no-one would fall through the cracks.

When it first launched in 2010, the centre helped around 100 families.

That figure has soared to 1600 this year and continues to go up - underlining the alarming rise in poverty across parts of Kirkcaldy district.

Pauline Buchan, centre manager, said: “It will keep rising until someone somewhere does something productive and thinks about the long term picture.”

Lockdown brought many more families to the centre - and many for the very first time

“We had people who were getting through until COVID came along,” said Pauline.

“It brought in a tsunami of vulnerable people - many who had never been in this situation before.

“People who were coping with an ill partner, trying to look after children and being put on furlough were just managing.

“But when one keels over, there is domino effect,, and the moment they want help they find it isn’t there - the system is too slow to react at a time when it should be helping people at their lowest and their worst. “

Support for the appeal poured in from people across the town with many businesses also playing their part.

Last week, staff at Kingdom Housing Association handed over £1200 of gifts.

They took part in fundraising raffles and raised £600 which was used to purchase toys for children of all ages.

Leigh Shearer, service co-ordinator at Kingdom headed up the fundraising efforts and said, “We have supported the Cottage Family Centre Christmas Toy Appeal for the last few years.

“I’m delighted that this year we were able to buy more toys than ever before so that local families can have presents to unwrap on Christmas Day.”

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