The Motherwell and Wishaw Poverty Action Network (PAN) was reconvened by local MP Marion Fellows on Friday and heard from One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) and other local groups on their work.

PAN was formed by Marion Fellows to allow local bodies to work together and learn from one another with the aim to tackle poverty and its indirect effects.

Local groups spoke about the work they were doing and heard about OPFS’s work in outreach to single-parents and their services in welfare inclusion, domestic abuse, employability, and family support. Single-parents can benefit from training, income maximisation, mental health support, and financial planning.

Mrs Fellows says the Scottish Government’s new Scottish Child Payment (SCP) will be “transformative” for families. By Christmas 2020, low income families with children under six will receive payments of £10 per week. The SCP is expected to lift 30,000 children out of poverty.

The Scottish Government will have also almost doubled free provision of childcare to 30 hours a week. Free childcare has already been increased to 16 hours a week for all 3 and 4 year olds – up from 12.5 hours in 2007 – and extended to 2 year olds from low income households.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“It was once again a pleasure to hear from OPFS and other local groups which are doing amazing work in our communities to tackle poverty.

“OPFS are engaging with these families and giving them the support they need to stay on their feet. Our children deserve the best start in life, and they are helping give it to them through comprehensive support.

“Incomes are being squeezed by the two-child tax credit cap Universal Credit’s five-week waiting time and cuts. This will make things especially tough for single-parent families who can only earn one income.

“For these families, the Scottish Government’s transformative Child Payment and extended childcare provision will give them the funds and opportunities to get into the workplace so they can raise their household income and give their children the best start.

“Unlike the UK Government, the Scottish Government is using its powers to create a social security system based on fairness, dignity and respect.”


Motherwell Christmas Foodbank Collection

Universal Credit is impacting families, many of whom are working, to the point where they are struggling to get by with many choosing between heating and eating this winter.

Forcing people onto Universal Credit is leading to a sharp rise in foodbank use with millions of pounds of cuts; the punitive Rape Clause capping tax credits; and new claimants having to wait five weeks for their first payment.

Our friends, family, colleagues and neighbours are bearing the brunt of the Tories’ welfare regime. As the roll out continues, more and more people will suffer.

In Westminster, I am working with my SNP colleagues to halt the roll out of Universal Credit. However, the Tories are refusing – which is why communities have to pull together to support each other this Christmas and beyond.



I  was delighted to nip into Tesco and support their Food Bank Collection!

They are asking customers to buy an extra can with their shopping to donate! #everycanhelps

I am pictured with Liz who said that there has been magnificent support from the local people.

I am proud to represent such a caring and generous community.


Basics Food Bank: Afternoon Tea Fundraiser

Delighted to support Basics Food Bank today at their afternoon tea fundraiser!

Lovely to meet with David Shaw, Martine Nolan and all the fabulous volunteers.


This Week #37

28th November – 4th December



On Tuesday, Marion was in London with a busy day of meetings, parliamentary duties, briefings, and working hard for the people of Motherwell & Wishaw.


On St Andrew’s Day, Marion was again undertaking a busy day at Westminster, including being present at the weekly Education Select Committee and Prime Minister’s Questions.




Saturday saw Marion’s monthly Wishaw Library surgery take place, before the MP was off to the Tesco foodbank event to meet volunteers, staff, and local people. The MP was also present at the Christmas Fayre in Gowkthrapple and the Neighbourhood Food Collection in Wishaw.



Last Friday, the Motherwell and Wishaw Poverty Action Network convened their second meeting to discuss how foodbank use in the constituency could be slashed.

PAN was formed by local MP Marion Fellows to allow local bodies to work together and learn from one another with the aim to tackle poverty and its indirect effects.

The meeting was attended by representatives of various bodies from across the community, including North Lanarkshire Welfare Rights, Basics Foodbank, Saint Vincent de Paul, the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and the offices of constituency MSPs Clare Adamson and Richard Lyle.

The focus of the meeting was to reduce the number of those who turn to foodbanks and was led by North Lanarkshire’s Welfare Rights team.

A report from the Trussell Trust in April this year reported that foodbank use in North Lanarkshire increased by 121 per cent in a single year. Over 2,100 people received an emergency food parcel from Trussell Trust alone.

The most common reasons for referral were due to benefit delays as a result of the rolling out of Universal Credit at 27 per cent and also low incomes at 22 per cent.

However, Welfare Rights’ latest figures show that by adopting methods which treat foodbank referrals as a last resort has cut foodbank use by 24 per cent. Strategies such as benefit checks and referrals to the Scottish Welfare Fund aim to empower individuals to maintain their independence.

Commenting, Marion said:

“The latest meeting of the Poverty Action Network (PAN) was a fantastic opportunity to bring together various groups and stakeholders from the community to tackle foodbank use which is a plight of our community.

“There are now various other banks which cater to peoples’ needs, including baby-banks and back-to-school banks so that parents may be able to clothe their children.

“While in some instances, individuals may have no option but to turn to a foodbank to feed themselves and their families, the Welfare Rights team, who have been doing fantastic work serving North Lanarkshire, demonstrated that foodbanks must be a last resort.

“There are other ways in which people can receive assistance which helps them to maintain their independence. These include challenging DWP decisions on sanctions and claim outcomes; benefit checks which maximises peoples’ incomes; and the Scottish Welfare Fund who can provide crisis grants.

“The members of PAN are now aware of small, but substantial steps we can take to tackle foodbank use in our community. By treating foodbank referrals as a last resort, we can empower individuals and benefit families greatly.”




MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, Marion Fellows, visited the Basics Foodbank and Well Café run by volunteers at Motherwell Baptist Church to provide her support.

Basics Foodbank, has various distribution outlets throughout North Lanarkshire and operates a free drop-in café every week at the Church in Motherwell.

Marion recently hosted a Poverty Action Forum meeting which brought together many local charities and organisations that tackle poverty. Speaking at the Forum, Marion highlighted the importance of co-ordinating their actions for more effective results.

Accompanied by SNP election candidate, Clare Adamson, Marion attended the charity’s most recent drop-in café. During their visit, they learnt about the work and ongoing projects managed by the volunteers; some of whom are previous users of the charity’s services.

Commenting, Marion said:

“It is fantastic to see the local community pull together to support one another when people are in need. The volunteers are pillars of our community and must be recognised for their vital work.”

The day was a resounding success and Clare commented:

“Basics Foodbank are doing fantastic work and I am really pleased to be here today to support them.

“It is a terrible thing that, in the 21st century, food banks should be necessary at all and it is terrible what the UK government’s austerity policies together with benefit sanctions are doing to people.

“But it is also humbling to see the goodwill and dedication of local people who are prepared to try and right these wrongs through providing services such as Basics Foodbank. I commend them and wish them well in their efforts on behalf of the most vulnerable in our community.”

A recent report by the Trussell Trust found that Scotland has the highest foodbank use in the UK with 133,730 people receiving a three-day food parcel in 2015-16 – including 43,960 children.

North Lanarkshire referral rates shot up by 121% compared to last year, to more than 2,100 people. The most common reasons for referral were due to benefit delays as a result of the rolling out of Universal Credit at 27%; and also low incomes at 22%.

Marion added:

“The UK Government is failing our communities. The roll out of Universal Credit has been shambolic and working parents are still unable to earn enough to support their families. The so called ‘new living wage’ and persistent attacks on tax credits will do little to help this.

“Sanctions have also played a role. The Tories have created a clever system which makes it difficult for benefit claimants and seeks to trip them up leading to sanctions – all to save money. A system that is supposed to protect peoples’ welfare is directly attacking it.

“However, austerity could have been avoided had the super-rich paid their fair share of taxes rather than making our communities foot the bill.”


This Week #13

Monday (4th April 2016)


Tuesday (5th April 2016)

With the parliament still in recess, Marion used Tuesday to work from her constituency office. The Motherwell & Wishaw MP was also keen to meet local people, visiting the Woolpack Knitting Club at North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre with Motherwell & Wishaw’s SNP candidate for the Scottish elections Clare Adamson.

Marion & Clare discuss local issues at the Knitting Club.
Marion & Clare discuss local issues at the Knitting Club.

Wednesday (6th April 2016)

On Wednesday, Marion and Clare visited the Basics Food Bank at Motherwell Baptist Church before meeting local people in the Well Cafe, also in the church. Marion and her staff have been present at the Well Cafe on a frequent basis over the last few months in order to provide any assistance they can to local people, particularly those having to resort to using the foodbank to get by.

Marion & Clare with volunteers & Pastor Baxter at the Well Cafe.

Thursday (7th April 2016)


Friday (8th April 2016)

Friday brought with it the Dalzell handover, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joining Marion, Margaret Ferrier MP (Rutherglen & Hamilton West) and Clare Adamson (SNP MSP candidate for Motherwell & Wishaw) to the mark the occasion. The First Minister had vowed to leave no stone unturned in finding a new owner for the steelworks and, after a lot of hard work, the Steel Task Force was successful.

Marion, Margaret Ferrier MP, FM Nicola Sturgeon & Clare Adamson.

Later in the day, Marion joined Fergus Ewing MSP (Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Energy & Tourism) and Clare Adamson at the opening of the Motherwell & Wishaw SNP hub on Windmillhill Street ahead of next month’s Scottish elections. In order to ensure both an SNP majority government at Holyrood and an SNP MSP for Motherwell & Wishaw, make it #BothVotesSNP on the 5th of May.

Clare Adamson with Fergus Ewing MSP & Marion.

Over the course of the day, Marion and her staff were also at Theo’s Cafe in Orbiston Neighbourhood Centre to hold this month’s surgery.


Visit to Basics Foodbank

Earlier in the week, I joined SNP candidate for Motherwell and Wishaw, Clare Adamson, at the Motherwell Baptist Church where the Basics Foodbank was taking place.

I would like to thank Pastor Baxter and David Shaw (both pictured) and all those involved in providing vulnerable members of our community with enough to eat when they struggle.


I was informed that a common reason for people using the foodbank was due to benefit sanctions. The Tories have created a clever system which makes it difficult for benefit claimants and seeks to trip them up leading to sanctions – all to save money.

While the rich hide funds in offshore accounts, our communities are being forced to pay the price of the Tories’ forced austerity.

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