More love and compassion could help people live longer, according to renowned public health expert Sir Harry Burns.
The former chief medical officer for Scotland’s heartfelt plea comes at it was revealed Kirkcaldy Foodbank had to spend £10,000 on vital supplies in one month for the first time.
The independent foodbank relies on donations but demand is such it has to fundraise to top up supplies.
A packed hall at its annual meeting heard Sir Harry demonstrate the link between adverse childhood experiences and low life expectancy.
“The human brain reacts and changes when faced with stress, fear and panic,” he said.
“Those who live with violence, abuse and poverty in their early years will be damaged mentally and without the proper support, may never recover.”
Rather than criticising or judging people who live chaotic lives, society should show them warmth, compassion and understanding, he said.
“That’s why the work of foodbanks is so crucial. It offers food and shows that someone cares.”
The foodbank is now seeing around 1,000 people in need every month.
Last year, more than a third of its emergency supplies went to children.
Only weeks ago it received £10,000 from Kirkcaldy area committee as it looks to move into bigger premises to cope with the ever-increasing demand.
As professor of global public health at Strathclyde University and an internationally renowned speaker on health inequality and poverty Sir Harry has a packed diary, presenting at conferences from America to Australia.
He committed to speaking at the foodbank’s AGM because he grew up in Kirkcaldy.
Foodbank chairperson Joyce Leggate was delighted to welcome him.
“I didn’t think we stood a chance of booking Sir Harry, just because he’s in such demand, but the talk we heard totally supported our view – that those suffering hardship and poverty, much of it inflicted on them due to the harsh benefits system in this country, deserve our help and support.”
Kirkcaldy Foodbank has been running for over five years on an entirely voluntary basis and aims to feed those in the local area who cannot afford to feed themselves.
Treasurer Joanna Tait revealed at the AGM that last month spending on food exceeded £10,000 for the first time ever.
Anyone interested in helping the foodbank can email email@example.com