Challenge Poverty Week: Cottage and YMCA Christmas Appeals

Fife’s charities are at the frontline dealing with the impact of poverty in our communities – and pressure on their services has increased following the roll-out of Universal Credit.

That impact is especially cruel at Christmas which is why the Cottage Family Centre in Kirkcaldy launched a festive appeal back in 2011 to ensure families have a food hamper and children wake up to a new toy on Christmas morning.

The Centre, which I had the pleasure to visit recently, provides a range of support families and individuals within family units who are vulnerable to social exclusion as a result of factors such as poverty, unemployment, poor housing, relationship breakdown, drug and alcohol problems and health related issues.

The Cottage’s Christmas appeal initially supported 100 children. By 2015 that figure had increased to 500 and, last year, 950 children. The fear is that figure could exceed 1200 this Christmas and the centre is appealing to individual, groups and businesses to donate, if they can, whether it be food, clothes, toys or money.

On a visit to Kirkcaldy YMCA I learned the organisation had experienced a spike in demand for its Active Kids programmes – an increase of over 20 per cent over the past year and this, in conjunction with funding cuts, pose real challenges to the project’s future.

For 11 years the Active Kids programme has provided holiday activities for ever increasing numbers of referred, at-risk and vulnerable children across the Kirkcaldy area, the majority of whom are aged 6-12 years old.

The YMCA create a positive, fun environment where children learn about trust, mutual respect and try out a wide variety of activities, such as den building, sporting challenges, as well making short films and music making.

The charity is forging ahead with plans to redevelop the former Gallatown Bowling Club into a new purpose-built hub and is appealing to businesses and other organisations to help in kind by donating building materials and internal fixings.

Items include kitchen strip lights, electrical socket points, concrete, hardcore, kitchen fittings, sanitary fittings, landscape resources – including benches and plants – and 12 tables and 80 chairs.

Fife Council has endured crippling Scottish Government cuts  –  nine per cent in real terms – and no longer have the funds to distribute as fully as they once did.

Meanwhile, charitable support services are being brought to absolute breaking point trying to prop up the welfare state. They need the community – you, me – to help them too. Please give them your support.

To donate to the Cottage Centre tel: 01592 269489 or visit: https://www.thecottagefamilycentre.org.uk/

For the YMCA tel: 01592 645530 or visit http://www.ymcascotland.org/locations/kirkcaldy Pic: Nana B Agyei