Dundee charity boss witnesses ‘deplorable level’ of poverty during Easter break

Ken Linton, Dundee Foodbank manager, gets ready to sort the next delivery

A Dundee charity boss has told of the “deplorable” poverty she witnessed during the Easter school holidays.

Kim McRae is services manager for One Parent Families (OPF) Dundee support services, an organisation which offers advice for families on a range of issues.

OPF Dundee was part of the Fun and Food programme during the holidays, which provided free activities and lunch to families living in an area of high deprivation.

A number of agencies were involved in the initiative, which began in 2016, including Cash for Kids and the Northwood Trust.

This year, OPF Dundee ran sessions in Whitfield, Fintry and St Mary’s during the school break.

Ms McRae said: “In the second week, we had 53 people come to our sessions in Whitfield which was the most I’ve ever seen. It was absolutely unbelievable.

“It just highlights the awful poverty that some people are clearly living in the city.

“People can’t afford to feed themselves. If you imagine your children are eligible for free school meals, five days a week and then that suddenly comes to an end.

“You may have no extra money and you are going to struggle.

“We had to make referrals to food banks during the sessions too.”

OPF Dundee is one of many agencies which can make referrals to Dundee Foodbank, which provides food parcels to people who are struggling to feed themselves.

Kim McRae
Kim McRae

Ms McRae said: “The foodbanks in Fintry are bursting to capacity. And these aren’t just people struggling on benefits.

“More and more people are now ‘working poor’ so they have a job and still don’t have a decent standard of living — it’s tragic.

“We see parents trying their best to survive.

“But if there’s a case where they don’t have the money, they will feed their kids and go without food themselves if they have to.

“We had one woman who couldn’t afford to feed herself so she was drinking cups of tea full of sugar so her child didn’t go without food.

“Another reason that the Fun and Food programme is organised is so it can help people come to a warm building when they are too poor to heat their homes.

“We see people struggling to buy other essentials like cleaning products or even toilet paper.

“I’ve seen adults burst into tears with the situation they are in.

“To see people struggle to provide the basics is very upsetting.

“The level of poverty we see is deplorable — and that’s just what we see.

“There will be hidden poverty across the city.

“People still feel there is a stigma attached to asking for help or going to a foodbank.

“But if it wasn’t for foodbanks in Dundee, I don’t know what some people would do.

“We may see people in Dundee starving to death.”