Angela Moohan, Chief Executive, The Larder
After shouting and screaming at the reception staff the young man walked outside and started banging his head off a wall, he was frantic, screaming loudly and crying. Many people looked on, made their judgements and walked away in disgust.
Not our Bonnie! She approached the man, by showing him kindness and compassion she was able to calm him down. By talking to him, listening and being non-judgemental, She was able to understand that he was not a deranged madman but a frustrated, hungry, frightened man who had no money and had become homeless. He had poor mental health and had just been told that he had to make his way from Broxburn to Livingston to present as homeless. He had no money, no home and he was alone.
Bonnie invited him into our café and community shop and gave him a meal whilst she tried to find the right people to help. In a short time she was able to secure him a free taxi to take him to homeless accommodation in Edinburgh, as there was no availability in homeless accommodation in West Lothian. He left calm and grateful with a full belly and bag of food for a couple of days but still frightened at what the next few days, weeks and months ahead held for him.
I share this story in Challenge Poverty Week as it highlights the wide-ranging impact that poverty has on a persons’ life. In this situation the lack of financial independence impacted the young man’s ability to find alternative safe and dignified housing, feed himself daily, impacted his state of mind, all of which hindered his ability to function and be the best version of himself each day. It leaves those experiencing poverty feeling worthless, isolated and with no hope of a brighter future.
The sad thing about poverty and this story is that it is avoidable. This week anti-poverty campaigners across Scotland are saying enough is enough and calling on the Scottish Government to take action now. We are asking for five key changes that we believe are achievable and would provide hope for a brighter future for those living in poverty.
We are asking for a dignified level of income, a home that is affordable and safe, accessible public transport and access to good quality food that nourishes the brain, body and community. We are also asking for the Scottish Government to introduce fair and sustainable funding for the Third Sector in recognition of the crucial role that we play in supporting individuals and communities.
The Cost of Living Crisis is not going away any time soon and it will have greatest impact on those on the lowest incomes. Every day at The Larder we see and hear stories that should not be happening in 21st century Scotland.
The young man that Bonnie helped needs the Scottish Government to be bold, use the powers they have and implement these changes now.