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Ross-shire MSPs slam welfare reforms as locals rally to hardest hit with food bank drive

By Hector MacKenzie

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Kate Forbes (left) with fellow MPS Maree Todd and Finlay Mackenzie of Blythswood.
Kate Forbes (left) with fellow MPS Maree Todd and Finlay Mackenzie of Blythswood.

TWO Ross-shire-based MSPs have collected over a tonne of donations for their local food bank over the past year, according to new figures from Blythswood Care.

In 2019 the office of Kate Forbes and Maree Todd, on Dingwall’s High Street, received donations of 1.2 tonnes for the Highland food bank network thanks to big-hearted constituents dropping off items every week.

The pair became a collection point for food bank donations in August 2018, in response to news at that time that stores of emergency food parcels for the Highlands were at their lowest levels for a decade.

Kate Forbes, constituency MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: “Maree and I started the collection point at our Dingwall office about 18 months ago in response to the local plea for food bank donations, and we have been overwhelmed by the response.

“We have had people popping in literally every week with items, and we only reached this one tonne figure because of the kindness of Highland people. What is deeply concerning, however, is that so many people, especially families with children, are dependent on food banks."

She said changes by the UK Government to the welfare system had hit the poorest the hardest and that the Scottish Government had worked "to mitigate some of the worst impacts of welfare reform".

Maree Todd, MSP for the Highlands and Islands, hailed" the widespread generosity of the local community".

She said food banks only work as a short-term solution and blamed welfare reform.

Blythswood Care’s head of projects, Finlay Mackenzie, said “We are extremely grateful to Kate Forbes and Maree Todd for the weekly collections for our food banks at their office.

“The staggering contribution of 1.2 tonnes of food in 2019 has been a real benefit in helping to feed local people in times of crisis.”

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