For the second year running, the Council has committed to addressing poverty in its local communities by participating in Challenge Poverty Week, organised nationally by the Poverty Alliance.
Over the next seven days, the local authority and its partners will be raising awareness of the scale of poverty, demonstrating how organisations and communities are helping tackle the issue and the services in place to support those most at risk.
The Council is key member of *Stirling Community Planning Partnership who are working collaboratively in a bid to tackle poverty and inequalities.
Through partnership initiatives and long-term programmes, including Advice Stirling, Digital Inclusion, and Macmillian Money Matters, work is ongoing locally to support families in poverty.
In 2020, 20% of children living in the Stirling Council area are living in poverty, a stark reminder of the scale of this national issue in our communities.
Supporting communities during the pandemic
This situation has been exacerbated by the current crisis, despite the incredible efforts of Council staff and partner organisations who have adapted to provide vital services to support communities and protect the most vulnerable during the pandemic.
This has included: home deliveries of 153,832 free lunches to families, a wide range mental health support programmes, employment support services, money advice, digital inclusion and energy advice.
During Challenge Poverty Week 2020, the Council and its partners will raise awareness on a series of other initiatives that are supporting communities during the pandemic including:
- Social Justice Ambassadors – an educational program for young people from across Stirling to become young researchers, allowing them to explore current social issues and how they impact the world around them. The current research focus will be centred on the impact of Covid-19 and recovery tactics.
- Thrive to Maximise – an employability programme funded by the Scottish Government and the European Social Fund that will support families across the Plean, Cowie, Fallin, Bannockburn and Hillpark areas of Stirling.
- The Health Promotion Grant – a Covid-19 response grants scheme by NHS Forth Valley for local organizations to apply for their projects which support and connect communities to respond to the pandemic.
- Third Sector – a number of local charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations are already making a difference to people on low incomes. These include Stirling District Citizens Advice Bureau Ltd, who provide free, independent, confidential, impartial advice that is available to everyone; Raploch Community Partnership, who offer employability, training, and learning opportunities across Stirling; Babes in the Wood, a not for profit social enterprise that aims to reduce the environmental impact of landfill waste & to reduce the effects of poverty on children; Ladies of the Rock, formed in the early days of the COVID pandemic, they deliver soup, home baking and a friendly smile to people in Stirling that needed support. They set up a Food Larder in Bannockburn which now helps 40- 50 people per week, working with partners such as Cyrenians, Recyke- a- Bike and Bannockburn House.
- Community Online Discussion – community groups and members from the 8 priority CPP areas will gather online and discuss their experiences of poverty in their communities and highlight potential solutions and priorities, while hearing from two active community organisations.
Working together all-year round
Convener of Stirling Council’s Community Planning and Regeneration Committee, Cllr Chris Kane said: “The Council and its community planning partners are actively working together all-year round to alleviate poverty by offering a wide range of support services to families, but there is clearly more work to do, particularly with the impact of the pandemic taken into account.
“It’s fitting that our Challenge Poverty Week campaign will coincide with the Council’s revised budget proposals, which will be considered by elected members on 8 October.
“Safeguarding vital services and protecting the most vulnerable during the remainder of the crisis will be at the heart of our plans, and this will be vital to preventing an increase in poverty and inequalities."
Support those most in need
Vice Convener, Cllr Scott Farmer said “The current pandemic has no doubt put financial strains on individuals and families across Stirling, particularly those in our most deprived communities.
“Since lockdown, the Council has responded and adapted its service provision in a number of ways to deliver essential services for communities and to support those in need.
“Our participation in this important campaign is an opportunity to highlight the impact of the coronavirus crisis on communities, show the wide range of work taking place among partners to help tackle poverty and reaffirm our determination to lead from the front on this national issue.”