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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Former PM praises voluntary sector's role in getting people through the harshest of winters


Gordon Brown's new publication looks at the lengths charities and community groups are going to in battling the cost of living crisis

The efforts that charities are making to get people through the cost of living crisis are praised in a new initiative launched by former prime minister Gordon Brown.

He has published an online guidebook called How To Survive The Winter, outlining the extraordinary lengths the voluntary sector is going to in helping communities through the worst winter in living memory.

The former PM and chancellor says charities are at the forefront of plugging the “gaping hole in welfare provision”.

How To Survive The Winter takes a UK-wide look at the sector’s efforts, taking in community pantries, larders and kitchens, foodbanks, bedding, toiletry and clothes banks.

Brown says it provides a “nationwide round-up of some of Britain’s most innovative, compassionate and entrepreneurial, place-based, support initiatives currently under-pinning families who are, quite simply, out of money to make ends meet”.

The guidebook also reveals that two million families, subject to at source benefit deductions, are being pushed into poverty, 1m people face deductions of 20% or more of their benefit payments, an average £60 cut every month, and 81,000 people face deductions as high as 30%, meaning a single person, who should receive £77 a week after rent is receiving only £52 – not enough to pay for heating and food, far less other basic necessities.

How to Survive the Winter is also a handbook for business and charity organisations on how to collaborate locally to create what Brown describes as their own local ‘multi-bank’ – a repository of goods donated from surplus business requirements, from furniture to hot water bottles, hygiene products to hotel discarded bedding, which can support families maintain decent homes.

He focusses on the work of the ‘multi-bank’ in his home area of Fife.

Kirkcaldy Cottage Family Centre pioneers a partnership with Amazon, Fishers Laundry, PepsiCo, Morrisons and Purvis Builders, ScotMid, and other local firms which, since inception just under a year ago has redistributed near £8 million worth of unused goods to some 40,000 families in need in Fife alone.

It’s a simple idea of matching unused goods with unmet needs which Brown believes will act as a template for new lifelines for hard pressed families and the charities supporting them as the scale of new poverty created by the energy crisis kicks in even harder the new year.

Brown said: “Britain now needs more than charity and fortunately today’s third sector is also a catalyst for change - identifying the scale of the problems that need to be addressed and showing us why.

“A crisis that is not the fault of the poor cannot be resolved by blaming those who can’t make ends meet for their poverty or by turning a blind eye to the despair in the communities ministers fly over but never visit. We must take the shame out of need. However, for that we require a government that does not just talk about being compassionate as the money runs dry but re-commits to what the welfare state was supposed to deliver: a decent minimum standard below which no one should ever fall.”

Read the guidebook here:



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