DREW HENDRY: This Christmas help out a good cause if you can
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In a time of escalating living costs, MFR Cash for Kids has become a crucial lifeline for families struggling to provide some joy for their children at Christmas.
Throughout the years, the team, supported by the generosity of folk across the Highlands, has tirelessly helped struggling families ensure their children aren’t left without presents on Christmas morning.
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Not only does this remove disappointment for the children, but it also allows parents to have some dignity in their difficulties.
I’ve never known a time when their work has been more valuable or needed locally.
When I caught up with the MFR Mission Christmas team last week, Lauren told me about the thousands of families they have helped and how, this year, donations have declined dramatically as more and more people are dragged into the cost of living crisis.
Baskets and tables that in past years would have been overflowing with toys are sparse by comparison, yet the demand for help has soared.
The story is the same at other places where volunteers and communities seek to help.
We continue to see rising food bank use, with research showing a growth of 11 per cent from last year.
An increasing number of people, once donors to MFR Mission Christmas and food banks, now find themselves in the distressing position of needing these very services.
Continuing with this trend is a dangerous path.
It affects everything negatively.
It is bad for local businesses, communities, and physical and mental health, strains services and, in turn, becomes self-perpetuating.
The policy of austerity doesn’t work, and the decision from the Chancellor to turbo-boost it is deeply damaging.
I will make this point again as we debate the Finance Bill.
The last thing we need right now is the £19 billion cut to the public service budget the Chancellor has applied.
This further cut to the Scottish budget prevents real help on rent, mortgages, food bills – and crucially, this winter, energy costs.
I’ve repeatedly asked for the kind of interventions other countries have taken to protect their citizens on these issues and relieve those who need it.
Until they heed these calls, we must continue to rely on our communities and the spirit of support so often called into action.
So, if you can donate to MFR Mission Christmas, a food bank, or another charity this Christmas, your help will make a massive difference to local families.