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ACVO News May 2024

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Jan 26, 2024

Cash-First Project announced for Aberdeen 

ACVO TSI has been successful in a bid to the Scottish Government’s Cash First Fund for a 2-year project to test a new way to help people reduce their reliance on food banks. 

Working in partnership with community groups and public sector bodies across the city, the £200,000 project will focus on improving the financial situation of individuals through the direct cash payments instead of emergency food in addition to wrap around support in the form of social security entitlement checks, debt assistance and emergency grant schemes.  There will be additional support mechanisms for people experiencing crisis through addiction and mental health issues. 

The Cash First approach forms part of the Scottish Government’s response to financial hardship and their aim to reduce the need for emergency food provision as a response to poverty. 

The project in Aberdeen will also look at existing referral pathways between support services across the third sector and the public sector with the aim of removing barriers which currently prevent people getting the right help at the right time.  

One of the largest groups requiring the support of food banks in the city is single men up to the age of 45.  Within this demographic the project partners have identified patterns of repeated crises for individuals who are in receipt of Universal Credit. 

We will specifically target this group and work with people who have direct, lived experience of the issues to co-design the parameters of a flexible crisis fund to ensure improved access by those who need it, when it is needed, and in a manner that it can be used to greatest effect. 

Our hope is that through a new approach, we can break the cycle of repeated financial crises and the ongoing need for emergency intervention.   

ACVO Chief Executive Maggie Hepburn said:

“This project will put money directly into the pockets of people who need it.  We can’t continue to rely on food banks to solve the problems caused by financial hardship, and the third sector is at the limit of what it can do to help.  Giving people cash instead of food parcels reduces stigma, gives people back some dignity and provides them with some flexibility and time to look at other ways they can get things back on track.”

This is a cash first project, but it will not be cash only.  There is an enormous amount of work already happening in the city to help those most in need and we are bringing together experienced partners to look at how we can reduce the ongoing need for food banks in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.” 

The project is a partnership between ACVO and CFINE, Instant Neighbour, Aberdeen Foyer Aberdeen South Foodbank, Aberdeen North Foodbank, Fersands and Fountain SCIO, Alcohol and Drugs Action with support from Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeen Health and Social Care Partnership and Aberdeen Health Determinants Research Collaboration. 

More news will follow about the project but if in the meantime you would like to discuss this further, please contact ACVO’s Policy & Consultations Officer Alasdair Ross at alasdair.ross@avashire.org.uk

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