A local charity founded more than 200 years ago to help the poor has found it is needed once again as poverty rates soar.
The newly named ForthGiving is ready and able to give financial support to people in a crisis – and it wants other local charities to know it is here to help.
The charity has had a makeover to bring it into the 21st century, so it’s swapped its former title – the Incorporated Glasgow and Stirlingshire Sons of the Rock, for a snappier new name.
ForthGiving also has a new logo, website and Facebook page to match.
As Sons of the Rock, the charity was once one of many benevolent societies that would help people in need.
Board member George Stevenson explained: “With the introduction of the welfare state, there was no need for these charities and most of them closed.
“Sons of the Rock didn’t close but it struggled to find its way in the welfare state age.”
But as welfare reforms have bitten, the charity is now finding huge gaps in services are leaving some people desperate.
As one of very few charities that can give money to individuals, they are in a position to help where others can’t.
They were, for example, able to help one family whose children were taken away because the house was not fit to live in.
Buying a new set of doors to make it habitable meant the family could be reunited.
Mr Stevenson said: “In situations like that, as long we get to hear about it, we can act quickly.
“We can make sure that in desperation people don’t go to loan sharks.”
The charity now hopes people will think about donating to support its work.
It’s 200-year-heritage means that there is enough in the bank to cover administration costs so every penny given will go directly to those who need it most.
Falkirk Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn, attending the launch, said it was vital for the council to work with partners and she was delighted to see the new charity reach out to help those in need.
She is keen to end the stigma attached to poverty, saying: “We’re not here to judge, we’re here to support.
“There are many reasons for people to find themselves in poverty,” she said.
While benefit changes – including the introduction of Universal Credit – have hit hard, people in work but on low wages can also experience real financial hardship and even hunger.
“Sometimes it just takes a broken washing machine or unexpected bill for people to suddenly find they can’t afford to eat. And we know that parents will go without so their children have food,” said Councillor Meiklejohn.
With one in four children in Falkirk living in poverty, she said the council was doing its best to help where it could and work with partners including Falkirk Foodbank and a number of more informal foodbanks where the community was “pulling together”.
Falkirk Council recently expanded the number of pupils eligible for free school meals and music lessons and are looking at other ways they can cut costs for those struggling.
“We need to think more about how we design our services to make sure they are accessible,” she said.
But she acknowledged there was more that could be done – and the problem was only going to get worse, making a charity that can help in a crisis even more invaluable.
Visit www.forthgiving.org.uk to find out more.