Sharp rise in Bute food bank use

The store room at the Bute food bank.
The store room at the Bute food bank.

The use of Bute’s food bank has increased significantly in the third quarter of this year, according to newly-published figures.

Ninety-five people used the facility, operated by Bute Advice Centre, between July 1 and September 30, compared to 39 between January and March and 50 between April and June.

The centre has now provided 613 allocations of food in the first nine months of the food bank’s operation.

Centre manager Julie Semple, who supplied the latest figures, told The Buteman: “In the first quarter 26 disabled people accounted for around 50 per cent of participants. In the second quarter 20 disabled individuals accounted for just below 50 per cent of those who used the food bank.

“In the third quarter 28 individuals who are regarded as disabled made use of the food bank.

“It is clear that numbers of disabled individuals using the food bank remains consistently high each quarter.

“There has been a sharp rise in the number of men using the food bank in the last quarter.”

Mrs Semple said the number of self-referrals to the service grew significantly, from 20 in the first quarter and 38 in the second to 74 in the three months from July to September.

“The main reasons given by participants who have used the service were low income, benefits issues, budgeting problems and debt,” she continued.

“Services offered by Bute Advice to help those accessing the service were help with benefits issues, Scottish Welfare Fund applications, housing advice, money advice and energy advice.

“Bute Advice Centre endeavours to support clients to examine the underlying reasons for using the food bank and tries to help alleviate those problems through a combination of food parcels, advice, information and representation.

“Checks and measures have been put in place to prevent misuse of the food bank whilst offering an inclusive service.”

The service uses food supplied by local not-for-profit organisation Bute Oasis, bought with the proceeds from sales of second-hand items at itsshop in Rothesay’s Argyle Street.

On Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, when Bute Advice Centre is closed, Bute Oasis offers emergency supplies of food and the offer of a referral to the advice centre.