A group working to reduce poverty in Dundee has been relaunched after coronavirus laid bare the “obvious wealth divide” in the city.
A new report to mark the return of Dundee Fairness Commission has highlighted the hardships heaped on people who were already living on the breadline during lockdown.
It said people struggling to make ends meet faced a “totally different lockdown” than those with access to a car and disposable income.
Commissioners spoke to people living in poverty who said paying for food and bills, as well as accessing medical, emotional or practical support, became even harder during the pandemic.
Trudy Mcleay, commissioner and chairwoman of the Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership Integration Joint Board, said: “This pandemic has altered many things in life.
“For some it has brought greater challenge and for some opportunity.
“As a civic commissioner I feel we have been given an opportunity to refocus on areas which have impacted on our most vulnerable groups and we have renewed insight into what matters to people.
“Our fairness commission is back on track and I am pleased to be part of the group examining the effect on mental health as we have lived through this pandemic.”
The commission, made up of 12 people with experience of poverty and 12 professionals, has been working to fight poverty in Dundee since it launched in May last year.
As part of the relaunch, commissioners have surveyed more than 400 people and the findings, as well as proposals for how to tackle the issues raised, will be reported in March.
The survey focused on how people in the city coped during lockdown, specifically around mental health, physical disability, and food and fuel.
Jacky Close, commission facilitator and director of Faith in Community Dundee, said: “As with everything else, the commission was paused due to Lockdown.
“However, we have regrouped and relaunched, the Dundee Fairness Commission relaunch report highlights the recent experiences of commissioners and their thoughts as we move forward with the work of the Dundee Fairness Commission.”
The findings will be reported to Dundee Partnership and it is hoped the problems raised will be acted on promptly.
Lynne Short, Dundee City Council’s fairness and equalities spokesperson, said: “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.
“There is still a need to explore how more support can be given for these most basic of rights for any individual of food and heat.
“I look forward to working with fellow commissioners to take what we have learned and will continue to learn and feed into the wider narrative for long lasting change.”