NEARLY 70% of users at a Glasgow foodbank identify themselves as having a disability.


Coordinators at Drumchapel Foodbank are seeing increasing numbers of people with physical, mental and learning disabilities.

Campaigners are calling for more to be done to protect people with disabilities, while politicians say the issue must be raised in the UK and Scottish Governments.

Almost 350 people visited the community foodbank, in a deprived area in the west of the city, between February last year and March this year.

Of those users, many of whom had families to feed, 28% said they had mental health difficulties, 21% said they had long term ill health, 14% said they had a physical impairment and 3% said they had a learning disability.

In total the foodbank has fed 1201 people - including family members and dependents - since it began giving out emergency food packages more than a year ago.

Among the users is Steven from Scotstoun.

The 44-year-old, who has asked to remain anonymous, has a long history of mental health issues, including depression and paranoia as a result of experiencing violence in his life.

He also has memory loss and seizures, which can happen up to four times a week.

Steven, who has been unemployed most of his life, failed his medical assessment for Employment Support Allowance.

He requested a reconsideration of the decision. However, this was rejected and he now has to work with a welfare advisor to process an appeal which will take several weeks.

In the meantime, he has no money.

He has applied for the welfare fund and received around £40 for gas and electricity payments.

Steven does not feel he should apply for Job Seekers Allowance because he would be unable to complete the job searches required of him for this benefit and worries he would be sanctioned.

He has been left with no income and is relying on Drumchapel Foodbank for support.

Oonagh Brown, Foodbank Development Worker, said Steven's story was not unusual.

She said: "A high percentage of the people we have worked with experience some form of disability which can include physical impairments, long term ill health, learning disabilities or mental health issues.

"Many people experiencing disability access our service for a number of reasons such as benefit delays or lack of support to navigate the complex benefits system.

"One primary reason we support people who experience one or multiple disabilities is because they have been told they are fit to work following medical assessments and have been taken off their Employment Support Allowance."

Ms Brown said it was "deeply concerning".

She added: "There are many projects working to support individuals experiencing this in our community but more help is required to allow these organisations to work with individuals to challenge such issues."

Carol Monaghan, SNP MP for Glasgow North West, said: "I have deep-seated concerns that those who need most support from the government - the disabled, those with learning difficulties and people with long term health issues - are the ones who are feeling the full force of austerity.

"As an SNP group at Westminster, we will continue to speak out against austerity and will fight any legislation which affects those in need.

"It is a disgrace that in 2015 people in our communities are having to rely on foodbanks to survive."

Bill Kidd, Anniesland MSP, said: "I've been involved in trying to help the dedicated workers and volunteers at Drumchapel Foodbank to maintain their vital service to local people, and they do this based on the support of locals from the area who care for their neighbours and about what happens to them.

"I believe that we need the powers over welfare and benefits brought to the Scottish Parliament so that the control over these will be in the hands of those who care about the people in working class areas such as Drumchapel and across Scotland."

Ian Hood, of the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland, said: "I find this very shocking.

"It shows that people are slipping through the net and I'm thankful for foodbanks who are supporting people with nowhere else to go."

Drumchapel Foodbank is accepting donations at Unit 9, Ladyloan Place, Sainsbury's Drumchapel in Allerdyce Road and B&M in Dunkenny Square.