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The importance of dignity

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Preserving dignity looks like it is being built into the design Scotland’s new social security system. It’s also the phrase that was at the heart of work undertaken by the Poverty Truth Commission and Nourish Scotland on the community provision of food.  Consideration of how something might impact on a person’s dignity, could really transform the way we think about the delivery of public services. Here’s a great example of a community project in Aberdeen which tackles food poverty but always with a keen eye on preserving the dignity of those they serve. 

A basket full of high-quality food for £2.50 may seem too good to be true – but that’s now the reality for shoppers at Scotland’s first food pantry.

The Woodside Pantry in Aberdeen provides people living in one of the city’s most disadvantaged areas a way to shop for a lot less.

It is an innovative, community-run project. The aim is to combat food poverty, and it has been hailed as a sustainable alternative to food bank use.

“I can get some really good healthy food at a very reasonable price”

For a small weekly charge, members get access to food donated by supermarkets and a local charity. Clare Whyte, one of the workers at the community centre where the pantry is based, told BBC Scotland’s The Nine: “Food banks are not a long-term solution. It’s an emergency food service, really.

“This could be a way to reduce food waste which is massive and a huge issue as we know and also tackle food poverty at the same time.

Food parcels from food banks are often only available to people who have been referred by frontline professionals like GPs or advice agencies. But membership of the Woodside Pantry was initially open to anyone living in the immediate area around the Fersands and Fountain Community Centre, where the project is based. It proved so popular that the catchment area has now been widened and the membership cap extended. Almost half of the people using the service receive benefits or Jobseeker’s Allowance. A quarter of the users are single parents. There are now 83 households with membership to the pantry, and more than 200 local residents – including children – are directly benefitting.

“I can get some very good, healthy food at a very reasonable price,” said Margaret Aisbitt, who was one of the first to sign up. Read the rest of this entry »

Period Poverty

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Legislation has been officially lodged at the Scottish Parliament to ensure free access to sanitary products for all women. Labour MSP Monica Lennon said her member’s bill aimed to make Scotland a “world leader” in tackling period poverty. It would make it a statutory requirement for schools, colleges and universities to provide such items. The Scottish government has pledged £4m to boost provision in public buildings.

Here in K & M, we were fortunate to have Christine McLean along to a Welfare & Wellbeing Network meeting from CFine to discuss her work on period poverty. In a nutshell, ‘Period poverty’ refers to having a lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints. Something that many of us are lucky enough to probably take for granted.

The Scottish Government asked CFINE to operate and coordinate a pilot scheme for six months in 2017-18 through which sanitary products were made available free to all those on low incomes who need them, including any gender categories in need.

Access to Sanitary Products pilot operated in Aberdeen’s regeneration areas through partner organisations.  A wide range of community and voluntary organisations supported the pilot, along with the local authority and educational institutions including; schools, colleges and universities.

Access to Sanitary products cfine

It has ended in a huge success with over 1,000 people signing up to receive sanitary products.  As a result of the success, The Scottish Government has allocated funding to roll-out the distribution of free sanitary products to those in need widely across Scotland, including Aberdeen via the FareShare network.

So, how does this impact in K & M?
What Christine hopes to do is to extend this service into Aberdeenshire. To enable this to happen, a hub for delivery of bulk pallets of the sanitary products needs to be identified which could serve a wider area. For example, in K & M there would be one main hub which would then distribute more widely over the area. Further distribution could be by groups picking up products for a specific settlement and then delivering to all outlets, or encouraging others to collect them. A record is kept of numbers of products distributed to provide tangible evidence of the need for this service and service continuance.

Think you can help out? Get in touch and we will pass on your ideas.

Local learning

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Good news for those communities with a hankering to visit another community where something of particular interest to them is happening, the Community Learning Exchange is once again open for business. These small awards that pay for travel and subsistence and a host fee, have proved very popular and effective – low on cost, high on impact. What is certainly true is that there is very little that is truly new under the sun and there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. There’s also much to be gained from learning from your peers.

By SCA

The Community Learning Exchange is a fantastic opportunity for communities to learn through the exchange of ideas and the sharing of common solutions.  When community groups make visits to other communities, the most valuable part is often meeting new people with similar interests and gaining new insights and perspectives on shared challenges.  Visiting groups come away armed with new ideas and approaches, and host organisations have the opportunity to explain their project to a new and interested audience, often seeing their own projects afresh through new eyes.

What will the exchange fund?

The Exchange will fund up to 100% of the costs of a visit by members of one community to another community project up to a limit of £750, including a host fee.  In exceptional circumstances (where travel distances are greater or certain aspects of the visit are particularly expensive) this limit can be increased.  Similarly, visits out with Scotland, but within the UK, will be considered where a similar project does not exist in Scotland.

The Exchange will also fund follow up support between organisations.  This might be as a result of a learning visit when it is recognised that more specific and on-going help, support, or advice is required. This can be through face-to-face meetings, by phone, e-mail, or skype. Funding for this kind of additional support will need to be negotiated separately.

How to apply

The Exchange operates primarily through the networks that comprise the Scottish Community Alliance.  The exception to this rule are Scotland’s community councils. Since the demise of the Association of Scottish Community Councils, there has been no umbrella body for community councils.

Applications to the Exchange are processed through one or other of the networks’ designated members of staff. The exception to this rule are community councils who should apply directly to the Exchange Coordinators.  Applications can be made at any time for visits throughout 2019 and up until March 2020. Funding is limited, and once it has been committed no further applications will be accepted.

For guidance about the Community Learning Exchange click here and an application form click here.

Please remember, applications must be endorsed by a network that is a member of SCA unless your organisation is a community council.

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Volunteer with us

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Volunteers fulfill a variety of roles within Aberdeenshire Council 

Becoming a volunteer with Aberdeenshire Council is a great way to learn and develop new skills, build confidence and enhance your CV.

There are many opportunities to become a volunteer with Aberdeenshire Council

Want to know more, click on http://jobs.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/volunteer-with-us/

or visit the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Move-More-Aberdeenshire-542472342807239/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel where updates will be posted regularly

Tesco Bags of Help

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Think you already know what Tesco Bags of Help funds? Read on as we’ve made some immediate improvements:

  • Apply anytime for projects that bring benefits to the community
  • Projects can be outdoor or indoor improvements, activities and equipment purchases
  • Apply for capital and revenue funding between £1000 and £4000
  • Simpler online application process
  • Community groups, schools, charities, local authorities and not for profits can all apply
  • You can apply again for a different project at any time

To ensure that the programme is really local the number of projects funded every two months has been increased. We still fund projects that improve or encourage the use of outdoor spaces such as allotments and community gardens. But now grants can also fund buying items such as sports kits, camping equipment, spades, litter pickers or specialised medical equipment and improvements to community buildings.

Following a public vote in Tesco stores every two months, three projects in each of the local Tesco store areas will receive a grant, with first place receiving up to £4000, second place up to £2000 and third place £1000. For information on how to apply please click http://bit.ly/bagsofhelp4