A Dundee project launched to tackle the “wicked” problem of childhood poverty in the city has been hailed as an example to all of Scotland.
Dundee Bairns was launched in 2016 by former chief executive of Dundee City Council, David Dorward.
It became an official charity the following year and since then has provided more than 300,000 meals for local kids in deprived areas.
An independent impact evaluation of the work of the charity has now been carried out by Julie Brown and John H. McKendrick for the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Unit at Glasgow Caledonian University.
It states the project has had a substantial positive impact in Dundee.
It says: “Dundee Bairns has delivered a substantial number of meals to children in Dundee, with qualitative testimony confirming the positive impact that this has on family life and family budgets.
“It makes an important contribution to tackling the wider (and wicked) problem of poverty in Dundee.”
The report explains that the project tackles food insecurity and supports other community partners to deliver an effective service.
It also relieves stress for families, raises awareness of the challenges that are present in Dundee, and provides a channel for community support.
C0-ordinator of Dundee Bairns Genna Miller welcomed the praise and said the charity would be lost without its dedicated volunteers.
She said: “We are so grateful for the continued support of our volunteers, our community project partners, Dundee City Council, our funders and of course the general public, all of whom make Dundee Bairns the impactful and responsive charity that it is for the city of Dundee.
“This report by Julie Brown and Professor John McKendrick is a mirror held up to our efforts over the last couple of years especially, and cements our place as a leading charity for the children of Dundee.
“This report has helped us to not only take stock of what we have achieved as an organisation, but acts as a springboard for us to develop and continue the work that we do.
“We very much look forward to using this vital information which will help us to review our strategy and be there for those who need us most.”
Welfare of kids at heart of project
The welfare of children, young people and their families in the Dundee area is at the heart of its charitable work.
Originally formed in 2016 by David Dorward, former chief executive of Dundee City
Council, Dundee Bairns became an official Scottish registered charity in May 2017.
While chief executive, David — who retired in 2014 — became aware that children who received free school meals during term time had no such provision during out of school hours.
Child food poverty was a concern that was also raised by head teachers in Dundee.
As part of a pilot project in 2016, Dundee Bairns collaborated with Dundee City Council, the Northwood Trust, Tay Cuisine and Cash for Kids, to provide funding and resources to support the preparation and delivery of hot meals for a fun and food programme.
During July/August 2016, the project delivered 19,300 meals.
The success of this pilot led to the introduction of Dundee Bairns.
The core provision of the charity is food, with supplementary family support-based
The charity provides meals/food during out of school hours, apart from the
Christmas period when vouchers are delivered to families.
To date, the project has delivered over 300,000 meals.
During the first period of lockdown caused by the pandemic Dundee Bairns also quickly mobilised its resources to fulfil a key role in delivering emergency food during the eighteen weeks period.
Prior to the schools going back, Dundee Bairns delivered almost 60,000 lunches and a further 70,000 grocery packs.
Dundee Bairns have now also launched their Cosy Bairns project.
This was initially begun to provide warm clothing for children who were returning to school last winter.
The local authority, like others in Scotland, ruled classroom windows should be opened to prevent the spread of Covid-19 but this made buildings much colder for youngsters.
The project provided over 3,000 children in Dundee with access to clothing packs in January this year.
They spent over £100,000 on warm clothing raised by various local funders and donations from the general public.