Renfrewshire South MSP Tom Arthur has shown his support for Challenge Poverty Week both in his constituency and at the Scottish Parliament; highlighting the importance of uniting to break the grip of poverty.
The Scotland-wide campaign, running from 7-13 October, is designed to show that poverty exists in Scotland and affects us all, that people can work to end it, that it restricts people’s ability to take part in society, and that it can be solved by boosting incomes and reducing costs of living.
The Renfrewshire South MSP visited the premises of local charity Helping Hand G78 in Barrhead to learn about the work they do to tackle poverty in the local area.
The organisation focuses on tackling social deprivation by sourcing second-hand household furniture and supplying it to the community at an affordable cost. They also help provide starter packs for vulnerable people setting up home via referral from any social service agency within East Renfrewshire and aim to reduce waste by procuring items which may be heading to landfill by offering them to people who are most in need; thereby helping alleviate the stress of social deprivation and inequality caused by poverty.
The organisation’s founder, Councillor Angela Convery, commented:
“Here at Helping Hand G78 our main aim is to help tackle the financial hardship that comes hand in hand with poverty.
“We aim to help residents free up some of their finances by supplying, sometimes essential, good quality items at very low affordable prices.
“We hope that this in turn will prevent families from having to take out loans or go to furniture shops where they will pay exorbitant prices.”
Mr Arthur continued his support for the week of action during First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, when he asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to update Parliament on the Scottish Government’s ongoing efforts to tackle poverty.
In her response, she highlighted measures such as directed targeted support of £1.4 billion to low-income households last year; the delivery of over 87,000 affordable homes since 2007; new parental employment support; and increasing early learning and childcare which will be transformational in supporting parents.
In addition, plans are progressing for the introduction of the new Scottish Child Payment, hailed by poverty campaigners as a “game-changer”. Expected to lift 30,000 children out of poverty.
However, she also warned of the dangers posed by the UK Government’s continued welfare cuts and the risk of a No Deal Brexit which could, in itself, push 130,000 people in Scotland into poverty.
Tom Arthur MSP said:
“Challenge Poverty Week is a reminder of the need to turn compassion into action and its wide reach shows that Scotland is a country that believes in justice and compassion and in the need to solve poverty.
“I was delighted to visit Helping Hand G78 at the beginning of the week. Their ambitions are the perfect embodiment of local people making a real difference for those in our community who are most in need and I look forward to continue supporting their hard work as they continue to tackling poverty at its source.
“There is no doubt the new Scottish Child Payment policy will be transformative, helping thousands of families across Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, but an even bigger impact could be made if the Scottish Government was not spending £100 million every year mitigating the most harmful UK Government policies such as welfare cuts and a No Deal Brexit.
“The disastrous Tory record on welfare shows why Scotland should have the power to take our own approach – rather than leaving these powers at Westminster.”
Peter Kelly of The Poverty Alliance added:
“Poverty restricts the choices people can make, leaving them in impossible situations like choosing either to heat their home or pay their rent.
“With rising living costs and unstable work, our economy is holding people down and stopping many from choosing their own path.
“We can solve poverty by loosening its grip on people. Benefits help release people from the restrictions our economy places on them, such as low pay and high housing costs.”
- More information on Helping Hand G78 is available here. The organisation is always looking for unwanted items, as well as volunteers to help with collection and delivery. Please note: items must be in good, clean working order.
- For more information about Challenge Poverty Week, see www.challengepoverty.net