Teachers launch foodbank amid child poverty crisis

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Education committee hears of tired, hungry children in Edinburgh's schools.

21st August 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Teachers at an Edinburgh school have set up a foodbank for pupils and their families after observing “shocking” levels of child poverty first-hand.

Claire Robertson, who has been a teacher for 26 years, told councillors of her experiences as she gave evidence to the council’s education, children and families committee this week.

She described primary-level children turning up to school tired, hungry and in clothes that appeared “unwashed”.

In one case, she said she found children at her schools breakfast club eating from two bowls of cereal “as they had had no food since they had left the school”.

As reported in the Edinburgh Evening News, Ms Robertson said she had “never experienced the level of need facing our schools and families”.

“Although there is a local foodbank, which is only open once a week, the school staff contribute to an in-school food bank – which can be accessed by parents,” she said.

It comes as fresh figures revealed the extent of child poverty in the Scottish capital.

Despite average incomes that are 27% higher than the Scottish average, almost a quarter (23%) of children in the city live in relative poverty.

The worst-affected areas are Gorgie and Sighthill, which have child poverty levels of 39%, while in the Leith and Forth wards 34% fell below the poverty line.

Wealthier areas such as Corstophine, Murrayfield and Inverleith, meanwhile, recorded child poverty levels of 11%.

Des Loughney, from Edinburgh TUC, branded the figures “shocking” and warned the true level of child poverty could be even higher as the figures could be “a couple of years out of date”.

“Foodbanks are being overwhelmed by rising demand,” he added.

Committee vice-convener Alison Dickie has now asked chief executive Andrew Kerr to make tackling child poverty central to council policy.

She said: “Child poverty is one of the most absolute important topics. It’s not high enough on the agenda of this council and across the city. I think there’s a complete lack of understanding about what exists.

“Every single one of us should be weeping about the child poverty that exists and its impact.”