Strong link between poverty and mental health in Fife


Spearheaded by Gordon Brown, former MP and PM, and patron of the Cottage, is calling on all local businesses and individuals who can afford it to help tackle the growing scourge of poverty and mental health among young people in the area.

The appeal is a joint effort between the Cottage, Kirkcaldy Foodbank and Greener Kirkcaldy.

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With the number of people self-harming or even committing suicide on the increase, the centre says that stepping in to help at an earlier stage, before things reach crisis point, is vital.

The move comes after Kirkcaldy East was named the fifth worst for child poverty among Scottish local authority wards – and the worst outside Glasgow.

Mr Brown said: “With 39 per cent of children already in poverty and the figure set to rise 10 per cent after Universal Credit ​is fully introduced in Kirkcaldy​, and with the freeze of children’s and other benefits for the next few years, we have to act now to stop more people falling into a downward spiral of poverty and poor mental health.

“Because of shortages in the NHS, which has long waiting lists for mental health counselling, the Cottage is now dealing with children with a range of mental health needs.

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“The Dads’ Club involves and supports young fathers, while the new ‘Bringing Up Bairns’ project supports grandparents and carers to gain the necessary skills to help bring up their grandchildren or children.

Gordon BrownGordon Brown
Gordon Brown

The Cottage is trying innovative new ways of supporting families in many different ways, but to do so more financial support is needed urgently.”

With an ever-increasing waiting list at the Cottage for mental health counselling, last year’s appeal meant that the two children’s therapeutic workers, funded through money from Children in Need, were able to take on extra hours to offer help to more youngsters, and the latest appeal wants to continue and expand on that work.

In addition requests for help from Kirkcaldy Foodbank and Greener Energy have doubled In the last month, with a third of the foodbank requests resulting from the introduction of Universal Credit, while the Cottage’s Christmas appeal which in 2011 had catered for 100 children, last year rocketed to 955.

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The appeal follows a meeting convened by Councillor Neil Crooks, chairman of the Kirkcaldy area committee, at the Town House where those attending were told about the level of need in the town and the opportunity to help.

Members of the 115th Scout group held a tombola which raised £153Members of the 115th Scout group held a tombola which raised £153
Members of the 115th Scout group held a tombola which raised £153

“We have had one or two very generous business owners donating to the appeals on a regular basis,” said Marilyn Livingstone, chairman of the Cottage Centre’s management committee.

“Churches, schools, banks and shops have donation points and we thank them very much, but we want to explain to others who could assist, the real difference they can make for a relatively small investment that will maximize business and public support.”

Pauline Buchan, service manager at the Cottage, added: “The need is now overwhelming us, worse than I have seen in all my years working in the community, and we have to find a more sustainable basis for funding.

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“More families are coming to us because of the changes in Universal Credit and the benefits freeze. Many families are working but still cannot make ends meet.

Poverty is one of the main contributing factors to poor mental wellbeing and we need, as a community, to continue to support the most vulnerable to ensure they have access to the support they need when they need it.

“If everyone was as generous towards this campaign as they are to our Christmas appeal we can help to continue to deliver the vital services to help people to help themselves out of poverty and the downward spiral of mental health problems.

“We want to be able to help our young people to build a future for themselves with hope rather than the despair which poverty can lead to.”

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Meanwhile Claire Baker MSP has called for the Scottish Government to step up its efforts to tackle mental health, particularly amongst children and young people.

The call comes as it is revealed that there have been more than a 1000 rejected referrals to child mental health services for three health boards in Scotland.

Between April and December 2017, NHS Fife had 249 rejected referrals to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services; NHS Forth Valley 210 and NHS Tayside 567.

The 115th (Chapel) Scout troop have helped to boost an appeal set up to tackle food poverty in Kirkcaldy.
The troop held a tombola and displayed some of their acquired skills at the Ralston Drive Co-op, one of the four Kirkcaldy stores taking part in the ‘31 days in May’ appeal.
The appeal was set up by the four Co-ops after one of the managers attended a meeting about the level of poverty in the town and decided he wanted to do something to help.
Each of the four stores has been busy holding bake sales, raffles, tombolas and doing sponsored events to raise as much money as possible to be divided between three local charities trying to reduce the problem.
And on Saturday the Scouts decided to do their bit to help out by running the tombola and making and selling key-ring buddies at the Co-op on Dunnikier Estate which is helping the troop through its dividend scheme.
Ian McIntyre, chairman of the 115th group, said: “They have been helping us, so we were happy to help them by doing a couple of hours fundraising. We managed to raise £153 to help the cause.