Highland Perthshire volunteer ensures local school children are fed and clothed

A volunteer in Highland Perthshire has been responsible for ensuring Highland Perthshire pupils most in need have been fed and clothed since the pandemic through the formation of charitable body, the Upper Tay Anti-Poverty Support Group.

Along with those in her church, Judy Ewer saw a need to help those in her community who were really struggling financially. Starting with a whip round in her church to help those desperately in need, Judy realised a more permanent solution was required for accessing funds that could be distributed to people in her community who really needed the support.

Covering a mostly rural area, stretching from Logierait, Ballinluig, Grandtully to Aberfeldy, Dull and Weem, the Upper Tay Anti-Poverty Support Group has been able to raise £40,000 to date through various grants and funds, including £5,000 from the Enchanted Forest Community Trust fund. All the money has been distributed to people in need in the region. According to the Local Child Poverty Action Report 2022/23, produced by Perth and Kinross Council and NHS Tayside, 5,914 children (21.9%) in Perth and Kinross are living in relative poverty.

The Upper Tay Anti-Poverty working group includes representatives from local churches, schools, the community warden, and other support groups such as Christians Against Poverty and Breathe Youth Project. The group meets regularly to determine what the needs are and where the funding should go. They raise funds for particular needs, such as laptops for Ukrainians who have moved to Highland Perthshire and recently, they held a bring-and-buy sale for flood victims living in Ballinluig, raising over £2,300.

Children at Breadalbane Academy are just one of the groups and individuals who have been able to benefit from the financial support offered by the Upper Tay Anti-Poverty Support Group, which has allowed the school to provide breakfast for pupils who aren’t able to get it at home, called ‘soft start’; supplied food vouchers direct to families most in need and provided a bank of spare PE kit for the school so those who can’t afford it don’t have to suffer the stigma. Children have also been supported on an individual basis according to need, such as those who need bed clothing.

During the summer holidays, the Upper Tay Anti-Poverty support group has funded places for children to attend outdoor courses at Beyond Adventure and Wee Adventures, for those families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Anna Glover, Principal Teacher of Support at Breadalbane Academy, said: “The funds provided by the Upper Tay Anti-Poverty Support Group has helped us to support pupils at the start of the school day, ensuring they receive a good breakfast to set them up ready for learning. They have basically helped us to enable pupils to attend school, by providing essential items such as school uniform that some families cannot afford. For instance, pupils can help themselves to clothes for PE out of a PE locker we have at school. There are no questions asked and pupils do not have to suffer the stigma of not having the appropriate school uniform. We are very grateful for their support.”

Ross Dempster, Managing Director of Beyond Adventure, said: “The Upper Tay Anti-Poverty Group is an essential service in our local community that strives to ensure that every child gets equal opportunity, no matter what their situation is. For the last two years they have secured funding to allow Beyond Adventure to run activity days for local kids that would otherwise not get the chance to explore the outdoors with us. Organising everything from lunches to making sure the children have the correct clothing for the outdoors, they are truly an organisation that cares. The kids that come out on activity with us are fantastic, they are always fun filled days that will be the highlight of the school holidays for many of them!”

Nela Popovic, Executive Director of The Enchanted Forest Community Trust, the charitable organisation behind Scotland’s favourite sound and light show, The Enchanted Forest, and one of the sources of funding for the Upper Tay Anti-Poverty Support Group, said: “We’re delighted to have been able to support the Upper Tay Anti-Poverty Support Group with finance which has really been making a difference to those most in need in the Highland Perthshire area. Our desire is that the Enchanted Forest Community Fund is a force for good, creating a lasting positive impact and legacy within the community in which the event has called its home for the last twenty-plus years.”

The Enchanted Forest Community Trust has now launched its 2024 Community Fund and is accepting applications from registered charities and community interest companies (CICs) in the Highland Perthshire area. To download an application form, please visit: www.enchantedforest.org.uk. Completed application forms should be returned no later than 31 March 2024.

For more information on this release please contact The Cunningly Good Group on 01738 658187.

The Cunningly Good Group is one of Scotland’s leading independent marketing agencies.

The Perth based multi-award winning marketing agency offers clients a strategic one stop shop, spanning the full marketing discipline, including marketing strategy, communications and public relations, graphic design and website development. The blended agency, founded by entrepreneur Tricia Fox in 2002, has worked with some of Scotland’s best known brands including The Enchanted Forest, Scone Palace and HMS Unicorn.

The Cunningly Good Group is one of only three other communications agencies in Scotland to have achieved the Communications Management Standard (CMS) accreditation, as awarded by the  industry’s professional body, the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) for companies that demonstrate operational excellence.