New report highlights efforts to tackle child poverty in Aberdeenshire
Prepared by the Tackling Poverty & Inequalities Strategic Partnership, and involving those with lived experience of poverty, the report details the work of Aberdeenshire Council, NHS Grampian, and a range of community planning partners between April 2022 to March this year.
It is estimated that during 2021/22 just over 10,000 young people aged under 16 – around 16 per cent – were living in poverty in Aberdeenshire.
In Aberdeenshire, the approach to tackling child poverty focusses on early intervention and prevention, tackling the root causes of poverty and building families’ capabilities through income maximisation, employability and promoting positive life changes.
The report details a range of positive initiatives that have helped support thousands of households across Aberdeenshire, including:
- Employment: The Aberdeenshire Employability Partnership supported more than 880 individuals to enhance their employability skills through targeted training programmes, work experience and supported employment schemes.
- Household costs: 21,731 households were supported to reduce their housing costs, representing financial gain of £6,509,323.
- Social security: 386 priority families and 4,737 children and young people are being supported through the financial support available to families across Aberdeenshire.
The work of community-based organisations is also highlighted.
Community inclusion project The Vinery in Banff, led by Aberdeen Foyer, has delivered skills academies and work experience for over 60 local people, as well as supporting 129 families to access a range of services and employability opportunities.
And a full-time money advice welfare rights officer has been placed within social enterprise organisation Progress in Dialogue, which has developed a wellbeing fund targeting marginalised communities that don’t traditionally access support.
Among areas of good practice highlighted in the report was the ‘See Me, Hear Me, Work With Me’ conference organised by the Lived Experience Forum.
The event was organised as part of Challenge Poverty Week 2022 and involved 120 participants.
A free eight-week programme to give babies and young children a healthy start in life, organised by UK charity Henry, is also mentioned.
A Child Poverty Action Plan was agreed in March this year, outlining areas for development for 2023/24 that include the creation of a child poverty dashboard to help identify priority areas for investment, the development of a flexible childcare network, and efforts to increase access to affordable transport.
Tackling Poverty & Inequalities Strategic Partnership chair Amanda Roe said: “The partners central to the success of the partnership is of course our families with lived experience, working together to codesign and coproduce services that enable families to have the best outcomes possible, now and in the future.
"Together we are challenging stigma and ensuring local voices are heard when decisions are being made.
“However, as a partnership we know that the future is going to be as challenging as the present.
"Our focus as a partnership in the coming year is to ensure there is ‘no wrong door’ to support families through continued integration of services, regardless of responsible agency.”
Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee, Cllr Anne Stirling, said: “The report highlights some of the excellent and positive work being delivered in very challenging times.
"This is very much down to the partnership approach being taken and the involvement of those with lived experience of poverty.
“The partnership’s aim is to tackle the root causes of child poverty, and our new action plan will focus on priority families at high risk of poverty, as well as those living in rural and remote communities.”
Committee vice-chair Cllr Hannah Powell said: “The action report is an excellent summary of all the good work taking place across Aberdeenshire, and shows the importance of tackling the wide range of factors that can contribute to child poverty.
“There is still much work to do but it’s clear that the combined efforts of partners are making a measurable difference locally.”
To read the Child Poverty Local Action Report in full, visit publications.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/dataset/child-poverty
For information about support available to those facing cost of living challenges, visit www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/communities-and-events/cost-of-living/