Published Date: Sep 14th, 2023
A number of local initiatives aimed at tackling poverty and inequality in the South and West Fife area are now well established and offering people short-term emergency help as well as preventative support.
An annual progress report recently presented to the Area Committee highlighted a range of collaborative approaches and wrap around support that is now available.
Four main ‘Community Assistance Hubs’ have been developed at Parkgate Community Centre, Inverkeithing Civic Centre, Oakley Community Centre and High Valleyfield Community Centre. Staff from the council and other partners have a presence in the centres on weekdays to offer advice and support. More practical resources are also available for people looking for help to mitigate against food and fuel costs including free air fryers, slow cookers and ‘oodies’.
More trained Welfare Support Assistants are working in the local area to carry out benefit calculation checks with people and to help them maximise their household income. And around 35 community volunteers have also been recruited and trained as ‘Energy Champions’. They have knowledge on energy consumption issues, energy efficiency measures and where to signpost people to for the type of support they need. The council is aiming to have a total of 100 champions trained up in the local area over the next two winters.
Employability programmes have been delivering for local people too. The ‘Next Steps’ programme provided youth employability support for 17- to 24-year-olds as part of a collaboration between Fife Council, WEA Scotland and Fife College. It helped young people to gain level 5 qualifications in ICT, Communication, Personal Development and a Nat 5 Silver SQA Award. And 20 local residents enrolled to the Rural Skills Scotland ‘Grounds for Growth’ course. By the end of the five weeks, 15 of the participants went on to take part in a 12-week waged programme and all 15 went on to positive destinations, 11 of them employment. Local communities benefitted from the programme too with the group carrying out a number of local clean ups and woodland thinning type works. They helped to clear space for a community garden in Limekilns and to revitalise a strip of woodland used by local school children in Cairneyhill.
Support for people in crisis or emergency situations continues to come in the form of supermarket vouchers and additional assistance from frontline staff is also available. The referrals have increased since the Community Assistance Hubs have been set up, partly thanks to more multi-agency staff being based under the one roof at the same time. This support for adults is now supplemented with the offer of cooking classes and food at the local youth clubs.
The growth of community food initiatives across the area is a positive legacy from the pandemic and most of them continue to operate. Footfall remains high with these food providers and support to them is ongoing. The Community Assistance Hubs will act as ‘anchor points’ for support in communities, referring on to the most appropriate partner. Café Inc also continues to be a vital lifeline to families during the school holidays.
Convener of the Area Committee, Cllr David Barratt said: “It’s crucial that the wrap around support that’s been developed continues to be offered to those in need. It means they can more easily access dignified, co-ordinated help when they most need it. I’m pleased to see that, this winter, access to food, learning and other activities will be offered to local communities with a particular focus on widening the programme of activities across the community hubs in a stigma-free environment.
“And, longer-term I look forward to seeing how projects that Fife Council has provided funding towards, including the new Dalgety Bay Community Hub and increasing the number of Credit Union members in partnership with the Kingdom Community Bank, progress towards their aims.”
If the cost of living crisis is affecting you, visit the community website our.fife.scot/gethelp to make sure you're getting the help you're entitled to.