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Cash-first future: Making food banks history in Scotland

This news post is 7 months old

Politicians, charities and campaigners shared their plans at the Gathering. 

Campaigners from a number of groups came together at the Gathering on Tuesday to underline the need for an end to foodbanks. 

With food insecurity across Scotland at record levels, this joint event - organised by the Trussell Trust and the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) - provides an opportunity for people working in the third sector to find out more about why a cash first approach is central to tackling poverty and food insecurity in local communities.

This groundbreaking plan – the first in the UK - includes critical support for the creation of cash first partnerships in communities across Scotland.

The speakers explored the development of local cash first partnerships, financial inclusion partnerships in six Scottish local authorities and the co-production of "Worrying About Money?" resources

At a time when a record number of Scots are struggling to afford the essentials and the need for support is greater than ever, discussion focused on how organisations on the front-line can keep working towards a cash-first future. 

The Scottish Government recently published their action plan to end the need for food banks, “Cash-first - towards ending the need for food banks in Scotland”. 

Shirley Anne Somerville MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, said: “We still have a nation that has members of our community who rely on Foodbanks, day in day out.

“One thing is absolutely clear. Foodbanks and the volunteers who run them do a brilliant job. But they are a sign of a system that has failed, not part of the system. How do we get away from the reliance onf?

“We’re really now not talking about Christmas, but survival and their basic needs. Thousands of people are making incredibly difficult decisions.

“We are determined to use our powers to make a difference, and our Cash First Plan sets that out.

“That cash first approach means people Can choose the food and other essentials they need. It’s important we look at a system that gives people dignity in the most difficult of times.

“We cannot forget the wider value of food in all our lives. Cash first doesn’t mean cash only. When poverty affects an individual or family, it’s not just material things. It’s the lack of dignity, the isolation and the feeling you have failed when the state has failed you.

“It’s important that we listen to the voices of direct experience.

“Improving the response to a crisis is a vital step in our journey to a Scotland without the need for foodbanks.”

She criticized the current social security system in the UK, warning it does not adequately provide the essentials.

The session was chaired by Polly Jones, the Trussell Trust’s head of Scotland. Sheshared their support for the Scottish Government’s work towards a cash first model.

She added that the value of secure work cannot be overlooked in discussions about foodbank use.

Sabine Goodwin, director of IFAN, added: “We can and we must put the foodbank genie back in the bottle.

“There’s been a shift in the last 18 months. Demand is outstripping donations. In many cases, no amount of time and goodwill will make a difference. The situation is unsustainable, and food parcels are never going to alleviate the problem.”