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‘Inspiration to us all’: Volunteer army in mammoth effort to secure Christmas for 1,400 Fife families

Food and children's toys were delivered to families across Kirkcaldy.
Food and children's toys were delivered to families across Kirkcaldy.

A mammoth operation to deliver food and presents to more than 1,400 families who otherwise would have nothing on Christmas Day has taken place in Fife’s most deprived community.

The 12-hour emergency response by staff at the Cottage Family Centre in Kirkcaldy, using a fleet of vehicles, delivered more than £35,000 worth of food parcels and presents to people suffering hardship in the town.

In the biggest response undertaken by the charity in the 12 years since it started the festive support, staff worked flat out as last minute referrals for help continued to come in.

There was extra pressure this year since the usual army of volunteers which flocks to help were not allowed into the warehouse because of strict coronavirus controls.

Restrictions were so tight that usual participants, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown – the charity’s honorary patron – and wife Sarah, were not allowed to attend.

This year more than 1,400 families were referred for help – 300 more than in 2019 – despite the implementation of stricter criteria.

Parts of Kirkcaldy are now experiencing the highest rates of child poverty anywhere in Scotland outside of Glasgow, according to HMRC figures.

Pauline Buchan, strategic manager at the centre, paid tribute to her staff for their efforts.

She said: “This year has been busier than ever and we have supported over 1,400 kids in poverty.

“Thanks to the generosity of donations and the local community we have made this happen. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported us.”

Kirkcaldy SNP MSP David Torrance praised the charity for providing a Christmas for people who otherwise would have had nothing.

“Once again staff have gone over and above to produce a fantastic job supporting families that are facing a desperate situation,” said Mr Torrance.

“The situation has been made worse because of the impact of the pandemic and more people either out of work or facing uncertainties over furlough.

“I must also pay credit all those Kirkcaldy businesses, organisations and individuals who have once again stepped up to support the work the centre does and smashing its £35,000 fundraising target.”

Labour councillor, Neil Crooks, convener of the town’s area committee, said the operation to rescue Christmas for hundreds of families was nothing short of “inspirational”.

He said: “It’s incredible to see such a caring and determined effort by everyone involved to ensure families are supported at this time of year.

“However, it is equally saddening to see that we have increasing levels of deprivation in the town, made even worse by the continuing pandemic and the problems that comes with it.

“Pauline and her army of staff should be an inspiration to us all for making a real difference to a great many people’s lives.”

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