Today sees the launch of the Western Isles Poverty Action Group's (WIPAG) Survival Guide, an information booklet aimed at people in crisis.
Recent statistics show that 70% of islanders are suffering from fuel poverty, and frequently facing a choice between ‘heating or eating’. One child in ten lives below the poverty line in the Western Isles, WIPAG has stated. Beyond this, the Western Isles still suffer disproportionately-high food prices. Welfare reforms have also had troubling effects.
Co-ordinated by Western Isles Citizens Advice Service (WICAS) with support from Citizens Advice Scotland's Community Action Team (CAT), the guide offers practical help and sources of aid for those suffering hardship in the area. An electronic copy of the Survival Guide, based on Stirling CAB's version, appears beneath this piece. WIPAG brings together a coalition of concerned organisations including the Hebridean Housing Partnership, the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership, NHS Western Isles and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
Councillor Angus McCormack, Chair of WIPAG, said: ‘I believe that it is really a disgrace that in the 21st century, people in the Outer Hebrides are having to resort to visiting foodbanks. The purpose of the Poverty Action Group is to ensure that people are made aware of these matters and offer practical help. It is also our job to lobby local and national government to ask that they take action to alleviate this situation.’
The Survival Guide will be launched today at two Poverty Awareness Day events, one in Stornoway, the other Balivanich. The guide is free and will be available in hard copy at Western Isles CABs, NHS, Hebridean Housing Partnership and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar offices.
WIPAG and the CAT have made a video highlighting related issues on the island which will also be launched today and can be viewed here: