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Coalition of charities urge First Minister to invest in a Winter Support Fund

Seven children’s charities in Scotland have called on Nicola Sturgeon to deliver lifeline Emergency Winter Support Funding to avert disasters for vulnerable families.

01/09/22

Coalition of charities urge First Minister to invest in a Winter Support Fund

In the letter sent to the First Minister today (Thursday 1st September), seven charities have appealed to the Scottish Government to establish a “much-needed” Winter Support Fund as it did in 2021.

The charities – which include Action for Children, Aberlour, Barnardo’s Scotland, Children 1st, One Parent Families Scotland, Save the Children UK and Who Cares? Scotland – say this emergency funding is needed to help the most vulnerable families weather a “harrowing winter” amidst the cost-of-living crisis and soaring energy prices.

The letter addressed to Nicola Sturgeon states: “We are extremely concerned that the cost-of-living crisis has and will continue to be a catastrophe for the many children and families we support, care for and love.”

The charities warn of “a chilling negative effect” with regards to Scotland reaching its child poverty targets and that many families will suffer a “harrowing and alarming winter” as they contend with skyrocketing bills.

The letter highlights the seriousness of the financial challenge ahead, and the importance of the level of support which the charities argue must match previous solutions. Last year, the Winter Support Fund enabled charities to give financial support to many families. Barnardo’s Scotland, and others backing the letter, say they are already witnessing record requests for support and that will inevitably increase further as energy bills and food prices continue to soar throughout autumn and into Scotland’s cold winter. They say the Scottish Government’s £41m Winter Support Fund prescribed last year was a crucial last line of support for struggling families and allowed charities to reach the most vulnerable children and families.

Martin Crewe, Director for Barnardo’s Scotland, said: “Rising bills are a huge source of anxiety for many of the families we support - many are already barely coping as it is.

“That is why we are calling on the Scottish Government, to renew the lifeline they gave last year to keep families afloat. By investing in a Winter Support Fund this year, it will give families some much needed help and assurances over the coldest and darkest months ahead.”

Paul Carberry, Action for Children’s Director for Scotland, discussed the need for further governmental intervention.

“The families we support are already under enormous pressure and are now set to face a relentless wave of energy price hikes and inflation all while coping with the colder weather.

“We are seeing more and more frightened families who are reaching crisis point. Some parents are coming to us in tears, terrified about how they are going to feed their children. Many of these families have already cut back to the bone and have nowhere left to cut.

“That is why we are calling on the Scottish Government, to renew the lifeline they gave last year to keep families afloat. By investing in a Winter Support Fund this year it will give families some much needed help and assurances over the coldest and darkest months ahead.”

The open letter notes the current support the Scottish Government has provided it also informs the First Minister that the charities are also pushing the UK Government to take similar immediate action. They promise to continue to hold both the Scottish and UK Government to account in ensuring families have the necessary support during the difficult months ahead.

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