Falkirk’s bairns in food crisis

Falkirk Foodbank is feeding an increasing amount of children. Picture: Michael Gillen
Falkirk Foodbank is feeding an increasing amount of children. Picture: Michael Gillen

More Falkirk children than ever before are living in poverty and relying on foodbanks for meals.

Two recent reports highlight the growing crisis with low income now the biggest single reason for people needing food parcels.

Angus MacDonald MSP

Angus MacDonald MSP

This week’s figures from The Trussell Trust show that Falkirk Foodbank handed out food supplies to 4437 adults and 1993 children in 2016/17 – an increase of 367 people given aid from the previous 12 months.

However, Alistair Blackstock, the local foodbank chairman, said what these figures didn’t reveal was the increase in children helped had now reached ten per cent.

He said: “It’s quite shocking and there is no sign of it decreasing. There are more families needing our help than ever before.

“The biggest driver in people needing help seems to be low wages. Often they are trying to keep a roof over their head or they have lost their job.”

Mr Blackstock said although The Trussell Trust has a suggested ‘shopping list’ of what should be in a three-day food parcel, in Falkirk it has been decided to hand out five days of supplies to help people.

He added: “We’re providing the basic foods that people need, as well as toiletries, women’s products and nappies as part of the bigger picture on essentials.”

Donations also continue to rise to meet the demand with 1200 kilos collected at Tesco in Redding last weekend.

Figures released by the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland showed that after housing costs one in five youngsters (21.1 per cent) were living in poverty in the Falkirk parliamentary constituency, while in East Falkirk it was higher at 23.06 per cent.

The areas where the problem is most prevalent are Falkirk North (26.23 per cent), Grangemouth (25.2 per cent) and Falkirk South (24.85 per cent), with Bonnybridge and Larbert (14.78 per cent) least affected.

Commenting on the figures, Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald said: “This report is another damning indictment on the Tory UK Government, which can now add this to its horrific record in the treatment of the most vulnerable people in our society. It is evidently clear that without urgent action to stop this brutal sanction and cutting regime being pursued by the Tories that children and families already in a dire situation find that their situation is getting worse.

“It is becoming more evident that austerity has to end, and these figures from the Trussell Trust prove that this is the ‘failed experiment’ everyone should be talking about. Scotland must be the only country in the world to give away oil revenue and get food banks in return.

“The Scottish Government is doing everything it can to alleviate child poverty and to help families get on their feet. The Tories must end this insanity now, before a generation is lost to state imposed poverty.”