THIS time last year, I launched my Christmas Advent Calendar Appeal in conjunction with local constituency organisations. The appeal resulted in more than 1000 advent calendars being donated to vulnerable children, who were identified by their schools and support organisations.

For some children during this cost of living crisis, their experiences of Christmas mean that the simple joy of an advent calendar is out of reach.

This year, I am once again working with Airdrie Community School Uniform Bank and Paul’s Parcels in Shotts – two incredible local support organisations – to run Anum’s Advent Calendar Appeal 2023.

Whilst I am proud to be running this appeal again, child poverty is a collective shame upon us all. We must do all we can to eradicate it.

However, the question remains – why do we live in a society in which child poverty has become so normalised? It was “New Labour” – which Keir Starmer appears to emulate – that first pushed “workfare” to the forefront of the UK Government’s agenda. Starting from the reasonable premise that work should be preferable to welfare, this decision set in motion the seismic changes that have led to the erosion of social security across the four nations.

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The result has been catastrophic for working families across Scotland. Cruel Westminster welfare policies such as Universal Credit dehumanise people through blanket “back to work” schemes whilst sanctions plunge people deeper and deeper into poverty with little chance of escape.

And in the midst of this all, there are innocent victims – children. Their only crime is that they were born into the game of social roulette, which has been ongoing since the Westminster casino began dismantling our welfare system decades ago.

One in four children are living in poverty across Scotland.

With 69% of children in poverty coming from a household where at least one parent is in work, and with The Trussell Trust saying that last year that one in five people using their food banks was in work, it is clear that the “making work pay” agenda from the Westminster establishment is not actually working.

Children are paying the price for this failed system, a price that will be paid over their lifetime with the UK’s low social mobility rates consigning them to a lifetime of economic hardship.

Devolution has granted the Scottish Government some powers over social security. In Holyrood, we have made progress towards tackling this deep-rooted inequality. Through the lifeline £25 Scottish Child Payment, it’s estimated that the SNP Scottish Government will help lift 90,000 children out of poverty.

But yet we cannot – and must not – shy away from the reality that, at present, our bold and ambitious policies can do little more than to mitigate the damage caused by consecutive Westminster governments who hold the powers to enact real transformative change yet choose not to. Transformative change starts with having the necessary tools at Holyrood’s disposal to implement a bold and ambitious welfare system that embodies the models seen in Norway and Finland, and works hand in hand with our education system to give children the best possible start in life.

While further devolution of social security would allow the SNP Scottish Government to make considerable progress towards this, Independence remains absolutely essential. Why? Because recent years have shown us that the existing status quo of remaining in this unequal union is simply unsustainable.

Regardless of the poverty-tackling policies that Holyrood implements, we will always be at the mercy of Westminster decisions.

Therefore, who’s to rule out a future in which our progress is undone by a messy-haired populist prime minister seeking to cut us off from the world’s largest single market?

What about a prime minister whose sole goal is to implement her own regressive economic agenda at a cost to an entire population – and imagine if she managed to accomplish all this in a tenure shorter than the lifespan of a lettuce? And what about a prime minister who is literally the richest Member of Parliament in the House of Commons? Unfortunately for us, we do not have to imagine these scenarios. We have lived them.

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Scotland has gone ignored by Westminster. Whether that be in our support of remaining in the EU, or when the disastrous mini-budget inflicted harm on everyday people’s pockets.

Because of these decisions, children in Scotland have suffered the brunt of this economic chaos and will pay the price over an entire lifetime unless independence is achieved.

For now, it is incumbent upon us all to play our part in tackling child poverty head on and to the best of our current abilities. As part of my commitment to this cause, and alongside Airdrie Community School Uniform Bank and Paul’s Parcels, we are aiming to donate 1500 advent calendars to children living across the Airdrie and Shotts constituency.

We hope to play a small part in giving vulnerable children a little bit of joy this Christmas.

If you would like to make a donation, please visit for more information or email

Payment for this article will be donated directly to Anum’s Advent Calendar Appeal 2023.