Denis Curran wants to spend more time with family after 25 years spent battling poverty
A dedicated anti-poverty campaigner is stepping down, saying 25 years battling the problem has taken its toll.
Denis Curran, 74, chair of the East Kilbride-based Loaves and Fishes charity, which runs a foodbank in the town and a homeless shelter in Glasgow, said he needed to spend more time with his family.
He will continue to be a spokesman for the organisation visiting schools, churches and businesses and will remain strongly connected to the cause.
Denis also vowed to continue to challenge people in power to achieve his ultimate goal of eradicating the need for foodbanks in modern society.
However, after what he called a miserable Christmas where over 400 people visited the foodbank for help, combined with his own ill health, he has been forced to call it a day.
“In 24 years of doing this it was the saddest Christmas I’ve ever experienced – and I’ve worked with the homeless on the street.
“Normally, you get a smile off people when you give them parcels. But they were beat – they were broken and beat.
It gave me something to get up and get on with but now, with my age, it’s hard graft
“Do people know what it takes to ask a stranger, ‘Can you feed my children?’
“It’s humiliating. But it’s not their fault.”
Denis received an MBE in 2015 for his tireless campaigning. And his impassioned plea to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament about how poverty was decimating low-income Scots went viral (see video below).
He added: “It was a difficult decision to leave but I’ve been there a long time and it’s needing new blood.
“Twenty-five years is a long time out your life and I can go now because it’s all organised. It’s up to the board now to decide who they want to take my place.
“The Loaves and Fishes became my life. It gave me something to get up and get on with but now, with my age, it’s hard graft. I’ve realised I have to step back and let someone younger come in.
“I’m not just walking away. I’ve played a big part in the changes and helped to introduce a lot of different things and helped to get it off the street.
“But I’ll still be involved with the Loaves and Fishes by doing talks as I’m the only one who knows everything about the charity.”
Loaves and Fishes started out as a soup kitchen, feeding homeless people from the back of a van before it moved indoors for the first time in to Renfield St Stephen’s Church Centre in Glasgow.
The foodbank opened in 2010 and distributed around 2,000 food parcels last year.