Aberlour continues to campaign to end child poverty in Scotland along with other organisations, charities, and anti-poverty campaigners. We want to see the Scottish Government being ambitious in its determination to reverse the rising child poverty we have seen in Scotland in recent years. We believe this begins by getting money directly into families’ pockets and ensuring they have an adequate income to live and bring up their children.
We know this can’t happen overnight, however. So we continue to do what we can to address and mitigate the impact of poverty on the children, young people and families we work with around the country.
Our Family Support service in Dumfries and Galloway has been working with families who are living in poverty and experiencing extreme financial hardship
Over the last 6 months, the coronavirus pandemic has created an even greater need in the local area. Aberlour recognised that there were more families needing help than we could support. In conjunction with the local community and Dumfries and Galloway Council, Aberlour opened an innovative community hub in North West Dumfries in September 2019. The hub was developed to serve not only the families we support through our core work but also wider members of the community who are seeking support or would like to volunteer.
The newly refurbished community premises, part-funded by the Council, is open to all and provides a range of accessible benefits and facilities to families and the local community, including:
- First community fridge freezer and larder
- Community laundry with washing machines and driers
- Clothing bank
- Lending library
- Family and community rooms
- Flexible meeting rooms which are accessible to the local community and local partners
- Hosting the school uniform bank
- Garden space
The hub has been well received and is providing a lifeline with food, clothing, warmth, and a sense of community for many families living in desperate situations. But it doesn’t stop there. Funds have been secured from the Scottish Government Investing in Communities Fund which will provide a Community Connector and a caretaker to help build relationships and ensure local people have an opportunity to lead on the use and development of this community space.
Throughout the pandemic desperate situations have been exacerbated, levels of anxiety have increased and children and young people have faced new social and emotional challenges. In Dumfries and Galloway, the service has worked with partners to adapt its service delivery to help children, young people and families cope with the exceptional circumstances.
Our Family Support services across Scotland are facing rising child poverty
Consequently, we see many additional problems and challenges for families intensify, such as food insecurity, anxiety about bills, children, and young people struggling to connect with friends and family, digital exclusion, and domestic abuse. Services have adapted to sustain support and relationships with families throughout this challenging time, often using technology to stay in virtual contact as well as meeting face to face through garden visits and socially distanced walks.
The Family Support Service in Dumfries and Galloway has worked with families to reassure and support them as well as addressing their immediate needs and promoting community connections. They have worked with social work colleagues to identify any care and protection needs. In conjunction with the Scottish Government, they have provided laptops to children and families to help them with their education and help reduce the attainment gap. They have also worked with a wide range of community partners to deliver shopping, provide hot meals, collect prescriptions, and respond to individual crises.
Service Manager Amanda McAllister said “Throughout the pandemic, we have adapted our services to meet the needs of children, families, and communities in Dumfries and Galloway. We have trialed new ways to provide support including working in partnership with local businesses such as The Townhead Hotel and Jolly Harvester Pub to help deliver over 18,000 meals to the vulnerable and nearly 10,000 meals to older people in the community.
“We have been fortunate to be able to offer help to whole communities and engage with a wide range of new volunteers and partners. Our experience of the community coming together and working as a team has been inspiring and we hope to see this continue in the future”.