A charity helping people deal with the “catastrophic” impact of poverty over two decades has been handed £1,000 from a Conservative politician’s salary.
The TLC group was given the cheque from Douglas Lumsden, who kept his Aberdeen city council job after being elected to the Scottish Parliament in May.
Mr Lumsden had pledged to donate his taxpayer-funded council wages, totalling around £17,500 over the year, after gaining his place representing the North East region at Holyrood.
TLC founder Rick Brooks, who runs the charity with his wife Amy, said the money will make a “huge difference”. TLC runs a foodbank referral service and befriending support from its base.
Mr Brooks said: “It is very welcome. It means we don’t have to look over our shoulder for the funds to fill the tank for a while.”
However, the donation and landmark anniversary are bittersweet for the charity in a city with stubbornly wide inequalities. And the SNP in the city said “Tory austerity” had made the situation worse.
Mr Brooks said: “There is still an obvious need here. Over 20 years of seeing the city – a wealthy city in many ways – it’s shocking how much deprivation there is in some parts. It’s catastrophic really.
“You’d not think it to stand in the city centre, but the situation is still tragic.”
The food bank, linked to the Trussell Trust network of providers, works by referral rather than for people turning up for help.
Mr Brooks said there is a delicate balance between supporting and creating need.
‘I hope my donation can make a difference’
Mr Lumsden, a former city council leader who still represents Airyhall, Broomhill and Garthdee, has asked MSPs to help mark the 20th anniversary at Holyrood.
He said: “I’m really pleased to be able to support the efforts of TLC by donating my second month’s salary since being elected to the Scottish Parliament.
“Rick and Amy Brooks started TLC from their front room and have since worked tirelessly to raise funds and grow the charity in recent years.
“Understandably this has been made more difficult by the pandemic which is why I hope my donation can help make a difference to the people who need it most.
“I visited the charity to hand over the cheque and saw the dramatic difference they were making to the lives of people as well as communities across Aberdeen and further afield.
“The importance and value of their work cannot be underestimated during such a difficult 18 months with the pandemic which is why I have also asked the Scottish Parliament to recognise the work of the charity at Holyrood.”
An SNP spokeman said the Tory-led UK Government could do more to help.
“If he genuinely wants to combat food poverty, he would be publicly demanding his London bosses halt their imminent cut of the £20 weekly uplift to Universal Credit which is currently helping many families avoid relying on food banks to survive,” the spokesman said.