Tom Arthur, MSP for Renfrewshire South, met with the Project Manager for Renfrewshire Food Bank, Elizabeth Alexander, this week to discuss tackling poverty within the community.
The pair discussed the need for the service in Renfrewshire and the wide range of essential goods they provide to people, such as cleaning and sanitary products.
Many of the food bank users find themselves in severe financial difficulty, often due benefit changes or delays in payments. Ms Alexander also explained that a recurring issue for their users is debt from rent arrears and payday loans.
Tom recognised many issues raised during the meeting, from his correspondence with constituents facing similar financial problems.
Tom said: “It is outrageous that in 2017, so many people are forced to rely on foodbanks to survive.
“This tragically illustrates that the Tories’ callous welfare system is failing our most vulnerable people.
“This system is designed by people who have no concept of the struggles that low income families face every day.
“The Scottish Government is set to receive 15% of welfare powers. Though it doesn’t give us much control, my hope is that we will be able to relieve some of the pressure put on low income families by the UK Tory Government over the years.
“The driving force behind the food bank is, of course, the volunteers and donors. Without them this invaluable service would not be available to people across Renfrewshire. I commend them for all their efforts.”
Project Manager, Elizabeth Alexander describes the bank as a “hand up and not a hand out”, explaining: “We put our users in touch with local organisations, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, to ensure that they are receiving the assistance they require to bring them out of financial jeopardy.
“We just have to ensure that people have access to life’s basic necessities in the meantime.
At the end of the day, any of us could find ourselves in this situation.”
Donations for the food bank can also now be handed in to Tom Arthur MSP’s office, based at 49 High Street, Johnstone. A list of required items can be found on the Trussell Trust website, or staff in the office can give further details.