“ANY help we can get is welcome.”
That was the message today from those set to benefit from the recommendations put forward by Dundee’s Fairness Commission.
Charity groups, community organisations and individuals have welcomed the 56 suggestions from the panel, which are aimed at giving thousands of folk who are struggling with their everyday lives a brighter future.
They said that the recommendations tackled key issues in the city and have now called for the commission and other authorities to ensure they are acted upon.
Rose Harkin, 58, from Stobswell, knows firsthand what it’s like to face financial problems.
Last year, she told the Tele how she had just £290 to survive on each month, from which she had to pay bills and buy food while having to help look after her autistic son Stevie, 21.
Although she’s managed to now secure a job — after she’d struggled to find employment due to her circumstances — she knows how others will feel to see some action being taken.
Rose said today: “I attended a meeting of the Fairness Commission at the very start and was delighted to hear at that time what they were planning to do.
“It’s great to hear now that they have concluded their findings and are in a position to make recommendations. So many families in Dundee need help financially.
“I know what it’s like to struggle and any help that can be given to families to give them a boost is to to be welcomed.”
Duncan McCabe, of the Stobswell Forum, previously told the Tele about how large numbers of people — particularly in his area — are living in fuel poverty.
Dundee has the highest level of households in fuel poverty of all Scottish cities, with 42% living in fuel poverty compared to the average of 36%.
One of the recommendations of the commission is that a minimum standard of energy efficiency is introduced to homes, and that more homes get heating discounts.
Mr McCabe said: “These sound like reasonable recommendations and I hope they are now acted upon.
“There have been concerns raised that the quality of recent insulation programmes have not been up to standard, so I hope this is one of the things that is addressed.”
Dundee mum Jordan Butler, who helps vulnerable children and families by giving them free clothes through her charity Togs for Tots, welcomed the recommendations and said that they would help to back up what’s already happening in the city.
Jordan says she comes across families all the time who requre help, and added: “It would seem that their recommendations are actually trying to provide help and support for those who are living in poverty.
“There are many small groups in Dundee who are doing their bit to support poor and vulnerable families, so it’s encouraging to know that these problems are also being looked at on a much larger scale.”
A total of 19 local groups participated in gathering research on poverty for the commission.
These included Dundee Energy Efficiency Advice Project, Dundee Foodbank, The Cairn Centre, Shelter, Faith in the Community Dundee, the Brooksbank Centre, and Home-Start Dundee.
Individuals from organisations like the police and NHS made up membership of the commission.
Among those who was surprised at what he found was Drew Walker, the health board’s director of public health for more than 35 years.
He said he thought he’d seen everything — but that was “before I became part of the commission”. He added: “Participation has been a real eye-opener for me.”