Tackling food and fuel poverty, mental health and physical disability will be the focus of Dundee’s relaunched Fairness Commission.
The charity, which first started in the city around four years ago to highlight and address poverty and deprivation, was forced to call a halt to work for several months due to Covid-19.
Members say they have “regrouped and relaunched” and are looking at how the pandemic has affected the lives of ordinary people in Dundee.
The group’s latest report comes just a week after the Accounts Commission warned significant investment to transform parts of the city – such as the waterfront – sat in “marked contrast” to endemic poverty, inequality, and drug-related deaths in Dundee.
While Dundee City Council was well-led, the watchdog said it faced a “significant challenge” in tackling the city’s deep social issues including the highest level of drug-related deaths for a city in Scotland.
Peter Allan, Fairness Commission community planning manager, said the charity’s new strategy would “expand to reflect the new, severe challenges caused by Covid-19 including digital inequalities, access to emergency food and medicine and escalating household debt.”
He added: “The work of the Dundee Fairness Commission is at the heart of the reshaping of Dundee’s Fairness Strategy and Action Plan that is due to be completed by November of this year.
“Although we may have to find new ways to reach all of our stakeholders, the Dundee Partnership will support the Fairness Commissioners to take their experience and recommendations to the most influential local bodies and request an opportunity to share them with Scottish Government ministers.”
The Fairness Commission report stated the group would be sharing some of their solutions and recommendations in a final report released in March next year.
The report said: “We are focusing on the areas of food and fuel, mental health and disability, and how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected these areas. Even though this is a challenging time, the Dundee Fairness Commission believes that fairness can and should still be fought for in the city.”
Councillor Lynne Short said: “I was always invested in the work we were undertaking as a subgroup around food and fuel poverty.
“My experiences through lockdown have cemented that determination to do all that I can to support communities to change the narrative we have in the city of poverty in these areas.
“The Menu for Change ethos of benefits, cash, food is encouraging and the right direction but there is still a need to go beyond and explore how more support can be given for these most basic of rights for any individual of food and heat.”