This Challenge Poverty Week MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, Claire Baker, is calling for continued action to boost incomes, reduce the cost of living and ensure people are not restricted from playing a full role in society as a result of poverty.
Following a visit to The Gate Charity in Alloa to find out more about its new look Food Larder and work tackling food insecurity, Claire Baker has highlighted the impact of the scrapping of the uplift to Universal Credit and increasing energy costs as key contributors to a cost of living crisis, calling on the UK and Scottish Governments to act now to address it.
MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Claire Baker said:
“It was good to visit the Gate in Alloa and hear about how they are making improvements to the lives of people who are marginalised, facing exclusion, vulnerable or homeless in the Clackmannanshire area.
“Challenge Poverty Week is a chance to focus on the steps needed to address poverty in our communities, and while the work of local organisations should be praised, we also reflect on the failure of our governments to adequately support individuals and families living in poverty.
“Both the UK and Scottish Government need to do all they can to eradicate poverty in our communities. The removal of the uplift to Universal Credit is a callous act by the UK Government which puts further pressure on families already struggling to make ends meet. The uplift was an essential lifeline during the pandemic and it has been removed at a point where many households are facing increasing bills. They need action to boost incomes and reduce the cost of living not a reduction in vital support.
“24% of children and 19% of adults in Scotland are estimated to be living in relative poverty and our UK and Scottish Governments are simply not doing enough to address the impacts or the underlying drivers of poverty in our communities. We need to see action to protect households with low incomes, the maximisation of benefits and a reduction in the cost of living.
“If we are to deliver a fair recovery from this pandemic, the eradication of poverty has to be a priority.”
This week I was delighted to attend celebrations in Kirkcaldy to mark 25 years of Fife Community Interpretation Services. It’s a fantastic organisation providing a vital service which supports equality and inclusivity in Fife.
Fife Community Interpretation Services has around 60 interpreters on its register and has helped people communicate with health and welfare services, around legal matters and when dealing with other local services. They also provide translation services for official documents, letters, reports and media.
For 25 years they have provided interpretation services across Fife in a large number of different languages and I extend my very best wishes for continued success in the future.
As part of Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight it was a pleasure to visit Novelli’s ice cream parlour in Burntisland to celebrate their fantastic ice cream, which is made in the parlour, and recognise its contribution to the vibrancy of the local High Street.
It’s great to see an innovative business providing a quality Scottish product and I enjoyed hearing about how Novelli’s, as a fairly new business, has flourished as well as its future plans.
This year Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight (31 August to 15 September) is celebrating 10 years of showcasing our counbtry’s food and drink sector. It’s an opportunity to highlight the success of businesses like Novelli’s which invest in quality produce and their contribution to our economy and communities.
This week I visited the 201 Telephone Box Gallery in Strathkinness as part of the nationwide Art in Action campaign led by Scottish Contemporary Art Network (SCAN).
The Gallery is located in a disused telephone box which was adopted by Strathkinness Community Trust and converted into a contemporary art gallery in a project led by local artist and curator Lada Wilson.
The Art in Action campaign is promoting the valuable role visual art plays within communities across Scotland – and calling for stronger recognition of this value when it comes to decision-making.
The gallery provides a fantastic opportunity for the community to connect with visual art and has generated a lot of local discussion. I hope that through the Art in Action campaign, the role of art and artists in communities can be better understood so we can work to ensure better recognition of its value in decision-making at all levels.
The gallery itself demonstrates how the smallest of spaces can be used innovatively to explore ideas and bring visual arts into communities so it can be enjoyed and engaged with on people’s doorstep.
Earlier this month I was delighted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Kinghorn Loch Ecology Centre at Kinghorn Loch by holding a debate in the Scottish Parliament.
I was also pleased to meet with staff and volunteers prior to the debate, giving them a tour of Parliament and hosting them afterwards for a small reception.
The Ecology Centre is a great example of an inclusive, community-led charity that aims to inspire positive change through connecting people and the environment.
Over the years the site has developed and is now an impressive facility with many different projects engaging with local people of all ages, involving them in making positive change in their community.
I recently visited Tullibody Healthy Living Project, a voluntary organisation which provides vitally important services to promote healthy living to the local communities of Tullibody, Cambus and Glenochil.
The service works in partnership with local volunteers and agencies to provide local access to various healthy living activities from walking groups and fitness classes, a fruit ‘Barra’ every Thursday, a work club and a Singing for Memories group, which all positively benefit local people.
I acknowledge that local authority funding is under pressure, but it is important that we recognise the benefits of organisations like the Healthy Living Project and seek to protect the good work they do.
Transport Scotland have announced that they will be introducing a pedestrian crossing on the A92 at Glenrothes. It will be near the site of where Logan Carrie was tragically knocked down and killed three years ago.
This is welcome news for Logan’s family, who have been campaigning for such action since the youngster’s death and for local campaigners who have been tirelessly campaigning for improvements to the A92 in Fife.
I, along with other MSPs, MPs and councillors, have been supporting their efforts and it is good to see this progress being announced.
I was really pleased to see Polish Paths to Freedom exhibition in the Rothes Halls as part of the celebrations around the 70th Anniversary of Glenrothes.
The new display of archival photography, which was gifted to Fife Council by the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region in central Poland, documents the 3000 officers and 10,000 Polish First Division Corps stationed in Scotland between 1940 and 1947 who provided support to Scottish regiments during the First World War.
I know that Scotland, and in particular, the region of Fife and Poland have a long shared history, and that these photographs are an important part of Fife’s rich history of migration.
I was really interested to read stories in the exhibition log book of local people’s familial connections and memories and would encourage visitors to contribute.
Last week I was delighted to welcome members of Ravenscraig Probus Club to the Scottish Parliament, where I gave them a tour of the building before they were able to watch First Minister’s Questions from the public gallery.
Following the opening of the Scottish Parliament, there was a conscious effort to ensure that Holyrood was open to voters and constituents. It is right that schools, clubs and the general public are able to see the workings of their Parliament and meet and question their representatives.
Ravenscraig Probus Club were able to do that and get a front row seat to what turned out to be a lively First Minister’s Questions. I was pleased to answer all their questions and hope they had as good a time visiting Holyrood as I had showing them around.
With the Queensferry Crossing opening this year I have called for a charity event to celebrate the new bridge and raise vital funds for local and national charities.
The event would follow the success of the ‘M74 bike and hike’ which took place before the opening of the M74 extension in Glasgow in 2011. This event saw around 20,000 participants take part in 2 separate courses; a short 4km route or the longer 14km round trip.
Participants could raise money for the charity of their choice but the event officially recognised 8 main organisations, including SAMH, Macmillan Cancer Support and the British Heart Foundation.
This was a great way to open the M74 extension and simultaneously raise awareness and money for charity and it would be fantastic if such an event could be arranged for the opening of the Queensferry Crossing.
I have no doubt that Fifers would love the opportunity to be amongst the first to cross the bridge and take part in what could be a full day of fun stretching from one side of the Forth to the other.
With great views of the rail and road bridge along with the coast of Fife, the opportunity for people to cross the bridge before it is open to cars should be fully considered. This would be a great initiative to raise money for local charities such as MND Scotland but also for the many local charities across Mid Scotland and Fife that do great work day in day out.
I hope that people across the region can get behind an event to mark the opening of the crossing event and that the Scottish Government will make such an event a reality.