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‘We should not be living in a first-world country where people have to exist on charity’: How the pandemic shined a light on Moray’s poverty crisis

Major General Seymour Monro says pandemic opened his eyes to poverty on his doorstep.

Anti-poverty groups are coming together to highlight the growing issue in Moray as the pandemic brings it to the fore.

A recent report published by the Fairer Moray Forum’s action group revealed that 23% of children are living in relative poverty in Moray. 

This equates to 3,696 youngsters and 358 more kids since 2015.

Relief fund opened up Lord Lieutenant’s eyes to scale of the region’s poverty

Moray Lord Lieutenant, Major General Seymour Monro, has said setting up the Moray Emergency Relief Fund with Banffshire Lord Lieutenant Andy Simpson helped highlight the issue to him.

The fund was set up to help people falling through the cracks of government aid during lockdown.

Over the last 18 months, the fund has raised £280,000 from Moray donors and granted over £240,000 to 620 applicants.

Mr Monro said: “My involvement in the Moray Emergency Relief Fund has raised my awareness of deprivation and child poverty in Moray.

“Covid has highlighted people’s difficulties and that’s why I was glad to set up the fund and join the Moray Fairer Forum action group.

We should not be living in a first-world country where people have to exist on charity.”

Seymour Monro

“Fairer Moray Forum seem to be the group driving things forward to tackle poverty.

“They are bringing the third sector and public sector together.

“Around 80% of the Moray population probably don’t realise that hundreds of people are living in a state of poverty on their doorstep, which is terrible.

“We should not be living in a first-world country where people have to exist on charity.”

Grassroots work to tackle poverty

The Fairer Moray Forum aims to help reduce poverty in Moray.

This group is a mix of representatives from third sector and public bodies including  Moray Food Plus, NHS Grampian, Moray Council, Moray Citizens Advice Bureau, TSI Moray, REAP Scotland and DWP.

Mr Monro said: ” I joined the action group a year ago as result of what I had learned working for the relief fund.

“Despite the efforts of the many people I have mentioned, many families and individuals will continue to struggle on a weekly basis, because their income from a low wage or from benefits is just not enough to provide the basics for themselves and more importantly for their young children.

“The causes of deprivation are numerous and sometimes complex: low weekly income, an inability to work, a lack of an all-round education to prepare children for adult life, poor health and housing, and a lack of sporting and leisure facilities.”

Importance of driving awareness

This week, groups are coming together during Challenge Poverty Week to highlight and break the grip of poverty on people’s lives.

A host of events and activities are being held.

Moray Challenges Poverty – events all next week

Posted by Fairer Moray Forum on Friday, 1 October 2021

Mr Monro added: “We want people to raise the issues with your representatives at council and parliamentary level. Press them to take more action.

“Support charities who are supporting these families in whatever way you can.”

Click here for more information about Challenge Poverty week and events taking place in Moray.

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