The Courier

Dundee Matters: West End furore cannot mask truth about poverty

The proposed design of the community fridge.

Vegetables. It’s hard to think of a less controversial topic, yet somehow the act of getting one of your five a day has become a divisive issue in parts of Dundee.

Plans to create a community fridge in the West End – a converted shipping container that would allow people to pick up free produce at any time day or night – have outraged some businesses in the area.

They fear the fridge would see the leafy environs of the West End inundated with ne’er-do-wells of all hue who might, it is suggested, scare away their customers by getting up to, presumably, all manner of vegetable-related anti-social and threatening behaviour. A real bunch of Dick Turnips, one might say.

While everyone is keen to stress they are not against the idea of a community fridge per se, they are just against having it in their own back yard.

Some business owners said that while the fridge is probably a very good idea indeed, it would be far better suited to areas of the city where there is greater deprivation.

Opposition to the plans has led to calls, online at least, to blacklist some of the bushiness that have spoken out against the proposals.

But the row over whether there is a “right” location for something like a community fridge misses the point entirely.

While it’s true the leafy West End is generally more affluent than other parts of Dundee, the harsh truth is that poverty is no respecter of postcodes.

Just because someone lives in one part of a city rather than another does not  mean they are free from money worries or do not need assistance.

The sad fact of the matter is that while some areas have greater numbers of people in poverty than others, there are people in every street, in every block, struggling to make ends meet and to put food on their table.

Does a child go to bed less hungry just because they live in one part of the city and not another?

Perth Road and its environs may be, on the surface, far more affluent than Lochee, Charleston or Menzieshill, but it is wrong to think that poverty does not affect people there, or that some invisible line is enough to separate the haves from the have nots.

The real outrage – and it is as an outrage – is that in the developed world something like a community fridge or a foodbank is necessary at all.