IN these times of crisis many families have come to depend on the services provided by the network of food banks up and down the country, so it is really distressing to see the recent spate of Conservative MPs who are using their local food banks to provide a photo opportunity.

These food banks exist as a result of the austerity created by those self-same MPs, and instead of hiding from them and hanging their heads in shame that the least fortunate among us are forced by the hunger of their families into a humiliating plea for assistance, they strut for the cameras grinning righteously as if they were helping the very people they are forcing into poverty.

It’s a disgrace, but what is even more disgraceful is that these food banks are being regarded as an acceptable part of the welfare system. They are becoming formalised, institutionalised and incorporated into the benefit system. The Department for Work and Pensions is referring claimants to food banks as if they were another arm of the state welfare system.

No child should be allowed to go hungry but for the intervention of charity. The concept of food banks in our country should be regarded as something which shames our nation. In the short term we can only start from where we are, so we have little choice but to give them our support, but in the medium and long term we should be demanding the eradication of the need for these institutions at the earliest opportunity.

John Miller
Scottish Socialist Party, Renfrewshire Branch

READ MORE: Four Tory MPs take food bank photoshoots to a new level of poor taste

UNFORTUNATELY, I was not surprised by the findings of Citizens Advice Scotland’s “Bringing Food to the Table” report, which revealed more than a fifth of people in Scotland, including many in employment, have gone a day without eating because they cannot afford food (One in five Scots goes a day with no food, December 7).

It is appalling that in 21st-century Scotland, 35 per cent of working respondents said they were struggling to afford balanced meals. Sadly, these are the stories I hear from individuals and families that we work with every day. In the last 12 months, applications to Aberlour Children’s Charity’s Urgent Assistance Fund, which provides cash grants for people in urgent need of financial assistance across the country, rose by over 80 per cent. As such, we have given out double the amount of money to people in crisis to help them buy everyday essential items such as food and basic clothing.

That is why, ahead of the Scottish Budget on December 12, I have urged the Cabinet Secretary to consider introducing now the new Family Income Supplement, as committed to by the Scottish Government in Every Child Every Chance, and not in three or four years’ time. I believe this would alleviate the worst effects of financial hardship for many struggling families across Scotland.

Poverty is a political decision and as inequalities in income continue to deepen, Scotland needs a budget that provides more money for low-income households. No-one should be forced to reduce or skip meals because they cannot afford basic food items.

SallyAnn Kelly
Chief Executive, Aberlour Children’s Charity

READ MORE: Poverty pushes one-in-five Scots to go day without eating​

I WAS disappointed to read Ronnie Mackie’s analysis of Michael Fry’s article on kelp dredging (Letters, December 6).

Although l agree with his sentiments on the article, l was disappointed that he thought The National should not be printing articles from a right-wing perspective. Ronnie is obviously missing the point.

The National supports an independent Scotland but it is not partisan like the rest of the media. It prints articles from all sections of Scottish society and if Ronnie had read it from its inception he would know that Mr Fry is regularly lambasted for his articles by readers of The National.

He is brilliant for proper democracy as he sparks debate and lets left-thinking readers have a view into the mindset of the right-leaning members of our population. Long live free speech and The National.

FA Paterson

READ MORE: Letters, December 6

SANDY Allan, in your Wednesday edition, has pointed out the problem that the independence movement has (Letters, January 5).

Sir Ian Wood, and his ilk, will be trotted out to speak out against the relevance and belated need for Scotland to leave the outmoded ties of Westminster and make the residents of Scotland a more compassionate and egalitarian society.

Woody made a fortune from fishing, went into the oil industry, got his ego well and truly trumped when his Aberdeen cosmetic plan was, quite rightly, binned and now has continued to reap the benefits of dramatic changes in the working conditions of oil workers.

For goodness sake, tell your friends, contacts and workmates what is going on and how the only solution is independence and fairness.

Sandy Coghill
via email

READ MORE: Don't trust a word Wood has to say on fishing​