Dad who sold TV to pay electric bill and girl with no chairs among thousands helped by Glasgow charity
and live on Freeview channel 276
These are just a few of the people a Glasgow charity has helped as it fights poverty in the city.
Councillor Audrey Dempsey set up Glasgow’s No. 1 Baby and Family Support Service five years ago and has supported 22,893 people since. But that is not enough for the charity – it plans to expand as Audrey said there is is so much more to be done.
Her base in Barmulloch’s Forge Street is packed with free essentials for families ranging from shoes and coats in all sizes to glamorous dresses and suits so kids don’t miss out on school proms.
Describing the hardship families have been enduring as the cost of living crisis continues, gran Audrey said: “If you are in poverty – you are feeling down about it. It spirals through the family like a disease. Teenage suicide rates have gone through the roof.
“Social media is showing people they need to live to a certain standard. Poverty doesn’t allow them to live to that standard – it is horrific. It leads to harassment and bullying in schools, colleges and workplaces. They express anger and frustration to parents. Parents spiral down further because they feel they are failing as a parent.
“Poverty is a punishment for people who didn’t commit any crime.”
Audrey said she has heard heartbreaking comments from mums and dads when they can’t afford things, which include: ‘My kids don’t deserve me. They deserve more.’
One man in his 50s who worked all his life but lost his job during the pandemic had to sell the television to pay the electricity bill. While employed he always earned enough to provide but not enough to save. The charity stepped in to give the family a TV.
Another family only had a bed in the living room with no sofa or seats so their wee girl asked the charity for a seat. A woman in her 30’s who had terminal cancer was given a wedding dress so she could have a special day.
The charity has a room full of baby cots, moses baskets and other items and by next week it is likely to be all gone, as there is a high demand for them. Another room has boxes and boxes of clothes sorted by size and gender for adults and children. Toiletries including deodorants and nappies are also available.
Audrey believes people shouldn’t miss out on special occasions either and there is an “events” room where there are bridesmaid, wedding gowns and mother of the bride dresses, suits and kilts. First communion dresses and christening gowns are also sourced.
Audrey, who is the charity’s service operation manager, said: “This means kids and families can make memories. They have been missing out and not getting the opportunity.
“Poverty impacts every aspect of people’s lives – that is overlooked in a big way. “
The charity comes to the aid of people referred from the NHS including GPs and other agencies but people can also refer themselves.
Pinned to a board, the charity had a list of current referrals including one from a doctors’ surgery where mum, dad, and their children all need shoes, jackets and clothes. There are also increasing referrals from single adults.
The charity or agencies deliver items for people to their homes.
Explaining how serious the situation is, Audrey said: “With the cost of living crisis there is no option but to expand. People are going to need to pull together for us to survive this.”
The service has come a long way since founder Audrey set it up from her home’s garage in Barmulloch -it now has three staff and about 20 volunteeers. Explaining her motivation, the new Springburn, Robroyston councillor said: “I got frustrated to the point where I thought if no one is going to do something I need to do something. It very quickly grew arms, legs and 14 heads.
“Services are disappearing before our eyes. There were services we could access last year – they are no longer available. Funding is being cut. I set out to fill gaps other services are leaving behind. When they are filled other gaps appear.”
Although many goods are donated, which means the charity plays a key part in recycling, new toys are given to children at Christmas. Audrey points out people are selling furniture just to survive and points to zero hour contracts and low pay as a problem.
She said there are cases where people “are better off on benefits than employment.
“Minimum wage and zero hour contracts are a big factor. You can be working 40 hours one week and three hours the next, ” she said.
And although it is a Glasgow service – the clothes and household goods bank also takes referrals from outside the city boundaries with Paisley and Cumbernauld being examples.
Audrey said: “I wouldn’t leave anybody going without.”
And describing the charity in one simple word, she said it is a “lifeline.”