Campaigns News

Austerity isn’t working as foodbanks in Aberdeenshire grow – Branch calls on members to do what you can to help

Austerity doesn't workUNISON Scotland’s report, “Austerity economics don’t add up” showed that last year in Scotland 71,428 people, including 22,387 children needed to use Trussell Trust food banks, up 400% in three years.

In 2012-13, a total of 480,000 working age adults in Scotland were living in relative poverty, more than half in homes where at least one adult was working (classed as in-work poverty). Nearly one in five children – 180,000 – were in relative poverty, 59% in a home with at least one adult working. Charities warn of a scale of poverty and adversity unheard of since Victorian times.

And Aberdeenshire is not immune. There are foodbanks at Ellon, Inverurie, Huntly and Banchory.  People can only use a foodbank if they get a referral from their Doctor, Social Work or Housing Support Services.

Steve Gray, Branch Development Officer, who compiled this report, said, “The branch has highlighted that the rise of in work poverty has created the problem that ordinary working people are not earning enough to provide the basic necessities of life like food.

Steve Gray
Steve Gray

“It is a disgrace in our wealthy society that people in work don’t earn enough to feed their families.

“According to the UK Governments own figures there are 13.5 million people living below the poverty line.  Around 90% of the people who need the help of their local foodbank are working but need this help to feed themselves and their families.

“Our branch recognises and supports the valuable work that Foodbanks do but condemns the UK Government which has allowed the 1000 richest people in increase their wealth by £519 billion whilst so many children have to grow up dependent on charity, even with parents in work. That’s just obscene,” slammed Steve.

Kate Ramsden
Kate Ramsden

Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair added, “Oxfam estimates that the richest three families in Scotland own more wealth than the poorest 20% put together.

“Such inequality hurts the economy and the £6 billion cuts in Scotland are also harming services that we all rely on daily. UNISON’s “The Cuts Don’t Work” report shows that key Scottish services, already under immense pressure, face further deep cuts in the next few years.”

Our local foodbanks
The Aberdeenshire North Foodbank at Inverurie has fed 581 people (404 adults and 177 children) since it opened in October 2013.   Around 33% of these people live in North Marr and 20% live in Inverurie.  The Ellon foodbank opened in May so information on who needs its help is still being compliled.  The Aberdeenshire North Foodbank at Inverurie is based at the Harlaw Centre in Inverurie and has its own website

Since its launch in June 2013, Aberdeenshire South Foodbank has helped feed 801 people (442 adults and 359 children). To meet the particular challenges of serving a remote and scattered area, the Aberdeeshire South Foodbank is establishing a network of satellite distribution centres from Braemar and Aboyne in the west to Stonehaven and Laurencekirk in the east to enable folk to access help locally without having to travel to Banchory.

Located in an annex to Banchory West Church, storage facilities are grossly inadequate, in terms of size, facilities and heating, and are so cramped that half the stock is held in a vacant office on the other side of town. However, options are being explored to remediate the situation, (ie replace broken window glass; install heating and insulation etc) if sufficient funds (ie approx £10k) can be found. The Aberdeenshire South Foodbank has its own website

The Huntly Food Bank was launched on 2 December following to meet the needs of people living in North Marr who had to travel to Inverurie for help. The Food Bank will operate initially on Tuesdays and Fridays. Volunteers to help with the Huntly Food Bank are still needed. For further information contact Debbie Parry on 07795 551107 or email her at

How Do Foodbanks Work.
Foodbanks depend upon non perishable food donations from the public 90% of their stock comes from ordinary people.  Donation points can be at supermarkets like Tescos in Inverurie, Banchor and Ellon opposite (the check outs on the way to the door), in chuches or even in Council offices like Edinburgh City Council.  Volunteers sort the food into boxes to provide 3 days food to a single person or to a family for distribution at a centre or from a van in remoter rural areas.

The people who use the Foodbank are given a referral by their doctor, Coucil Social Work Service or Housing Support Service you cannot just walk in off the street.

How Can We Help?
UNISON will continue to fight for decent pay, a living wage for all and an end to zero hours contracts, and for a fairer more just society for all, where the rich pay their fair share.
Meantime, as individuals we can donate non perishable food at collectIon points in Tescos or other with supporters of the Aberdeenshire North,  Aberdeenshire South Foodbanks and Huntly Foodbank
You can also volunteer to help at one of the Foodbanks. The websites and Facebook sites provide their contact details.