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November 2, 2016

Action on poverty

Scottish Government is making encouraging noises about abandoning the use of sanctions in any devolved social security system. Anyone in any doubt about the necessity of that should watch Ken Loach’s new film I, Daniel Blake.  But despite the occasional self-congratulatory headline about increases to the living wage, poverty  – around food, energy or otherwise –remains unacceptably high. And so below the radar, countless community based responses achieve minor miracles. Projects like Comas with its aim to make all residents £20 better off or Ruchazie Poverty Action Group, making decent food affordable.


Daily Record

A community group are going the extra mile to tackle food poverty in their area.

Founders of the Ruchazie Poverty Action group set up their community stalls, which run every fortnight, as they recognised a serious issue of deprivation in the area.

They said there is limited access to supermarkets from where the majority of locals live, and smaller shops charge high prices as there is not much competition.

As a result, locals were struggling to afford food and the group stepped in to help.

Every two weeks they travel to various locals around Ruchazie and sell fresh fruit and vegetables, tea, coffee, washing powder, rice and pasta at rock bottom prices.

They also sell it in small quantities to keep the costs down, and help tide people over for a few days if they are desperate.

A packet of 20 Tetley teabags on sale by the group costs just 40p, coffee sachets are on offer for 20p while pasta and rice portions for two to three people cost 40p.

The group was started by Brian Tollett, a 62-year-old security worker, and Annette Bowers, a 52 year old who was born and bred in the area.

Every fortnight Brian visits the fruit and vegetable wholesale market and haggles for hours to get the best prices for high quality produce.

He then bring it back in his van and sells it as cheaply as possible to locals, without taking any profits.

Brian said: ” Out typical customers are just normal people who live in the area who want to save money. Families, pensioners, everyone really.

“Our goal is to open up a community shop and we can sell this stuff all the time to people and introduce a bit more competition in the area.”

Annette added: ” There is a real problem with food poverty here in Ruchazie and we wanted to tackle that.

It’s taken us a while to get to where we are but we’re determined to succeed. People need to eat decent food. When the buses stop running, or if you don’t have any money for the bus to get to the supermarkets, you are forced to go to shops which charge a fortune and usually don’t sell fresh produce.

“We sell everything in small, affordable packets as it can help tide people over and means they don’t spend all their money at once buying more food than they need,”

SNP Councillor Gerry Boyle, who represents the area, praised the group for all their efforts in helping the people of Ruchazie.

He said: ” The project is absolutely fantastic and it is helping maintain people’s dignity and giving them access to good quality food.

“It would be great to see community shops like this across Glasgow so more people could benefit.”