This winter sees the highest cost of living ever for Scots, and children are paying the price.

Across Scotland, they are going without the basics – things most of us take for granted – and the need for help has never been greater.

Children’s Charity Aberlour runs an Urgent Assistance Fund providing poverty relief for struggling families. Emergency cash grants are given to these families to access food and clothing for their children and to provide heating and lighting for their homes.

The fund is running dangerously low and without help will run out by Christmas. Disadvantaged families across the country will struggle to pay for essentials. The Scottish charity says:-.

  • Almost half of the families who apply to Aberlour’s emergency fund don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
  • More than 50% of the families who apply to the fund need clothing for their children.
  • 20% of the families who apply to the fund don’t have a bed for their children.

One family supported by Aberlour described the catastrophic effect of the rise in cost of living – food, clothing and energy being of particular concern – and the sense of hopelessness they felt.

Mum to 8-year-old twins Abbie* and Maya*, Maggie* has health issues and has recently trained to be a paramedic despite struggling with her finances, mental health and relationships.

In order to feed her children Maggie often goes without, sometimes for up to three days per week. She says:

“Maya asked me at one point why I didn’t have dinner when I was sat at the table with them, and I had to just lie and say that I’d had a big lunch. She’s at school. She doesn’t know that I don’t eat breakfast or lunch”.

The cost of school uniforms and shoes was also a concern and Maggie worried that her girls would feel embarrassed not having the same as everyone else but had nowhere to turn. “Even asking friends and family, they’re in the same situation, so there wasn’t anyone else I could have asked”.

Abbie has a lung condition and needs the heating on which is an added expense. Maggie says:

“Because of her lung condition, I’ve got to have the heating on constantly. Just to help her breathe. The house has quite a lot of damp. I’ve got a dehumidifier and run that constantly to try and keep the damp levels down. I can’t think about the cost. It’s either the house is damp and she’s ill, or I spend more money on electric”.

Aberlour stepped in with the Urgent Assistance Fund and were able to give Maggie the support she needed. She said: “Being awarded the grant got me back on track. I was able to buy the things that were needed for school and food as well as gas and electric. It helped because I was getting really depressed”.

Last winter Aberlour was flooded with applications for the emergency fund due to the cost-of-living crisis. Due to the high demand, the charity launched its “Poverty Relief” campaign and as a result Aberlour helped over 1,000 children, providing much needed relief to them and their families.

Since April 2020, Aberlour has given out over £2.9million in Urgent Assistance to around 8,877 families who have been tipped into poverty, struggling to feed and clothe their children, keep them warm or keep the lights on.

Applications have been awarded in every local authority in Scotland. The average amount given to these families is £326, which has been used to cover life’s essentials and requirements.

Chief Executive, SallyAnn Kelly OBE says: “This winter, as we continue to face the biggest cost of living crisis in recent memory, more and more families are turning to the charity for help, but because of this soaring demand, the emergency fund is going to run out of money by Christmas, when it’s needed most.

“Too many children are going without and for many families it’s a constant worry of where the next meal is coming from, and if there’ll be enough money to heat their home.

“Aberlour’s Urgent Assistance is a lifeline to disadvantaged families all over Scotland and every penny of cash donated goes directly to those who need it most. If you are in a position to donate – however big or small the amount – we would be infinitely grateful for your support”.


Watch our video HERE

Aberlour is one of Scotland’s largest children’s charities. They work hard to provide brighter futures for children living in poverty or with discrimination, disability and disadvantage. They have a range of services throughout Scotland which includes residential care, fostering, early years, disability services, recovery services, perinatal support and the all-important Urgent Assistance Fund that’s running dangerously low.

Aberlour recently won UK Large Charity of the Year at the Third Sector Awards.

*names changed to protect identities