Gordon Brown: 'I don't think I've ever seen poverty as bad as this'

The former prime minister said people were afraid to turn on the heating and were struggling to feed their children.

Gordon Brown has backed a Fife family centre’s appeal to help people struggling with the rising cost of living.

The former Prime Minister praised the generosity of those who have responded to the Cottage Family Centre’s plea for items including blankets and duvets.

The appeal comes amid a rise in energy and food bills predicted to bring a “deluge” of requests for help to charities and food banks throughout the country.

“I grew up in Kirkcaldy and we had pit closures, we had textile mills closing and I saw a lot of unemployment, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen poverty as bad as this,” Brown told STV News.

“We’re seeing mothers that are afraid to turn up the heating because they can’t afford the heating bills. We’re seeing mothers without cookers, so they can’t give their children hot food. We’re seeing families that are desperate because they just don’t have the resources to cover their bills.”

The Cottage, which aims to help 15,000 Fife families facing higher bills, has already recorded increasing requests from parents for blankets, bedding and warm clothes to protect their children against the cold nights.

Ahead of next winter, when further energy rises are expected, the centre is planning to help families insulate their homes and local firms have been approached for carpeting and support to paint and wallpaper properties.

Former Labour leader Brown, who is also a Cottage patron, said: “Fife is experiencing what is happening the rest of the country.

“Never has local hardship been as great and pressing and the need for help is urgent as the requests for support grow. Too many families already unable to make ends meet.”

In January, the Cottage joined up with Amazon to deliver thousands of unwanted goods from its warehouse to local households.

Six more firms – Scotmid, Craig and Rose, Fishers Laundry, Bell Group Kirkcaldy, RGM Heating Ltd and the Purvis Group have now also signed up to join them.

Purivs has offered its 6000 square foot Lochgelly warehouse rent free to store the goods.

Brown, who was prime minister from 2007-2010 after ten years as chancellor, said: “When we have asked companies for support they have been very generous even when some are under real pressure themselves and so we are able to expand our activities to the new homes self-improvement project which extends beyond support with blankets and bedding against the cold winter nights, to carpeting, decoration, and insulation with the help of greener Kirkcaldy and local volunteers.”

Manager at the Cottage Pauline Buchan said: “Only by working together across all sectors will we be able to protect households and raise their living standards.”

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