The children’s charity, which strives to improve the lives of Scotland’s vulnerable children and young people, has warned a decade of rising and stagnated poverty levels in Scotland, combined with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the increasing cost of living and the end of the Universal Credit uplift, will have long-term implications for children and families living in the country’s most deprived areas.
Aberlour, which runs a number of services including residential care and fostering, has now launched its Poverty to Hope Fundraising Appeal, to support children and families through what is going to be a dark and hard winter.
A survey carried out by the charity found seven in ten parents are concerned about their children’s future chances, with more than half – 55 per cent – anxious about their children staying up to date at school.
Around 60 per cent of parents are worried about their children’s mental health.
An Aberlour spokesperson said: "Children affected by poverty are losing out on life experiences. They are not getting the same opportunities as other children. Families are finding it hard to provide for their children and their basic needs are not being met.
"Children are going to bed without adequate bedding and with empty tummies. It’s heart-breaking. For families caught in poverty there’s increased chances of poor mental health, domestic abuse, isolation and not making ends meet.”
The situation is reflected in rising demand for Aberlour’s Urgent Assistance Fund, which, since March 2020, has given over £1.5 million in cash handouts and short-term relief to 5090 families and 10,927 children in poverty.
The charity continues to be inundated with applications to its Urgent Assistance Fund this winter and funds are dwindling dangerously low.
SallyAnn Kelly, Aberlour chief executive, said: “Over the past decade the number of children living in poverty has continued to rise and we have seen a corresponding rise in stress amongst struggling families.
"Then the pandemic hit and brought health, social and economic challenges - it’s been a perfect storm. Families, who were already struggling, are at breaking point, and as we’ve seen from the research parents are most concerned about their family finances and the mental health and future chances of their children.
“Aberlour is committed to supporting families in the long term. We stand by children and families for as long as they need us and that can often be for many years. We strive to provide a beacon of hope for their future.
“We’ve launched our Poverty to Hope Appeal, to raise awareness of the desperate situation thousands of children and families are facing right now. We are asking the public to donate what they can this Christmas so that we can continue to offer long term support and hope to more children and their families.”
People can visit the website to donate or get more information.