Westcliff in Dumbarton, where bad housing and child poverty was rife and where now new housing is being built and tenement block refurbishments are taking place. Picture by Bill Heaney
By Democrat reporter
West Dunbartonshire Council has outlined the range of initiatives and support it offers residents as it works to help reduce child poverty in the area.
The different sources of assistance are detailed in the Local Child Poverty Report, which every local authority in Scotland produces annually.
This year’s document details the challenges faced in the area, as well as providing practical signposts for support so families who need help can access it quickly and easily.
In addition, it outlines some of the resources the Council and partners are investing in to work towards the 2030 national child poverty targets.
The report also outlines the response to the challenges brought about by Covid-19, to ensure our services are online and accessible to all, with particular emphasis on those families who have been impacted most.
Child poverty in the past – but it hasn’t been eradicated despite promises from politicians.
The report highlights a number of ways in which parents, children and carers can access support to either prevent or move out of poverty including the Working 4 Parents initiative, introduced in 2019. The initiative helps parents with financial awareness, debt management, benefit maximisation and fuel and food poverty initiatives.
Another initiative, the Oot Scoot and Aboot programme works to address barriers that prevent young people in poverty from fully participating in community and social life by supporting them with personal and social development.
During 2019 to 2020 the Apprenticeship Pathway Team assisted 50 young people to develop their skills and supported 114 young people to access a Modern Apprenticeship.
The Council also operates a social benefit programme which ensures any projects undertaken by contractors in the area must include a scheme to benefit the local community. In the past this has included apprenticeships, donation of supplies for homeless households starter pack and employability support.
These programmes are in addition to the ongoing work against child poverty which includes providing income and benefit maximisation advice; raising awareness of benefits available; support residents to complete applications for funding; support with fuel poverty; the creation of more affordable homes; the Leaving Care Housing Protocol; work to reduce the cost of the school day and much more.
Child poverty – Cllrs Diane Docherty and Caroline McAllister have been tasked to tackle it.
Councillor Diane Docherty, Convener of Housing and Communities, said: “Poverty is the reality of life for too many children and we are committed to changing this for as many in West Dunbartonshire as we can. This report is more than a list of good intentions, it is a working document for individuals and organisations seeking to improve the quality of life for families in West Dunbartonshire.
“The expectation is that by providing this as a key reference document we will raise awareness of available services and their aims and actions; we will provide contact details and links to further information; and we will encourage partnership working between these services. Working together we can make a real difference.”
Councillor Caroline McAllister, Vice Convener of Housing and Communities, added: “We are committed to reducing child poverty and providing all the support we can to help local families. Key to this is having a credible strategy that identifies help and support which is easily accessible to families. These supports include helping families find work, manage their finances and raise their children to be healthy, active citizens who will hopefully find meaningful well paid employment in the future.”