What services and resources do you offer to tackle poverty?
Our services and resources really revolve around food provision. However, we operate a lot on emergency food provision which is something we’re trying to move away from because there’s no impetus for people to improve their long-term goals for their futures when we’re just handing them bags of food. So we’re looking at developing projects where we’re delivering a lot more than the food – it’s the information and the knowledge and what to do with it and where to source it.
There are things we can do that suit both long term sustainability in Inverclyde and also reduce the cots of living. The perception, and certainly my own perception, of a lot of environmental initiatives (like zero waste shops) is that you end up paying more: if something’s green then it’s going to cost you more and that’s just the way it is. That’s why a lot of the time we don’t buy the green products, we buy the things covered in plastic because we can’t afford to pick that environmentally sustainable product.
What role does your community garden play?
The food we provide is not always food we grow in the garden, we don’t have a high level of production from the garden. Our garden is more about teaching people, getting people out there and helping them improve their mental health and getting them active in the community. Everything we grow is a bonus!
We have a lot of environmental initiatives. For example, we pick up the food waste from supermarkets and we distribute that as community food. We were part of a 2 year project with the Climate Challenge Fund where we collected over 80,000 kilograms of food and we developed a system of community fridge-freezers we had all over Inverclyde, but with Covid hitting this evolved into food shares which is an Inverclyde project where there are five food shares in Inverclyde. We’ve outsourced the supermarket collections to different people and it’s still getting collected and going to the community, it’s just been spread out more and more people are getting involved.
We offer work skills and training to get people work-ready which is another route to tackling poverty.
What is the best way for people to access your services?
Contacting us. We also have a lot of organisations that are familiar with us who will refer people to us. But really all you need to do is pick up the phone and give us a call.
That’s a challenge for some people. You can come through community link workers, SMAH, all sorts of different routes.
What impact has your organisation made to challenge poverty in Inverclyde?
Certainly not solved it! It’s an ongoing fight and if we weren’t in somebody else would’ve had to step up and be in it. It’s really just about keeping that fight going, raising the awareness that some people don’t have; it’s not easy for some people, you can’t judge people, we need to get stigma out of the way. It could be you tomorrow. It’s really just about attitude and challenging stigma.
Our main issue is reaching people. We have a lot of activity going on and we have a lot of clients but there’s people that we know we’re not getting to.
How important is it that we challenge poverty in Inverclyde?
Why wouldn’t it be important. Inverclyde has high levels of poverty and deprivation and we can see the impact tat has on mental health, on drug and alcohol abuse, on crime rates, childhood trauma – the list is endless. If we could eridicate poverty, and just take a step up the ladder, everybody has a little more breathing space.
How important is it that we tackle stigma associated with poverty?
Stigma is a really difficult one and as soon as you start talking about poverty and targeting people to speak about it you’re increasing that stigma.
There isn’t anything to feel bad about. It could be me tomorrow.
Personally, I don’t think we can tackle poverty until we have the correct social services in place to support that in the background. Unless you’re helping people with their issues then something like the emergency food provision doesn’t help in the long term. So there’s a lot of long-term solutions that need to be put in place if this is to ever be tackled.
➡ Find out more about Belville Community Garden and view their Inverclyde Life's directory - click here.
Oct 7, 2021