28 November 2022

'You are not alone': plea to those facing financial challenges to seek the help they're entitled to

Action is needed to change the inaccurate stigma about people claiming benefits – according to the chair of Aberdeenshire’s Community Planning Partnership.

Cllr Anne Stirling was speaking as data reveals that more than 14,000 people in Aberdeenshire claim Universal Credit. Of those, over 3,000 are 50 years old or older and almost 2,500 have been claiming less than 6 months and the majority are in work.

In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, it is essential to break down out-of-date stigma about people who need help and support and work together as communities to help each other.

The reasons for needing support can be many, whether it’s a relationship breaking down, a job loss, ill health or caring responsibilities – individuals may find themselves in a place of needing to claim benefits, visit a foodbank and ask for help.

Cllr Stirling said: “No-one wants to be in this situation. It is stressful, exhausting and, unfortunately can cause people to feel embarrassed, stigmatised and alone. This is not the case. You are not alone, and we want people to be able to access the support they need at the time they need it.

“Help is out there and there are many, many others who are in the same position. Probably more people than you might realise. Absolutely no-one should feel ashamed or worried about asking for help; it is there for you for a reason.”

She was also highlighting steps people can take to support themselves and their families.

Cllr Stirling went on to add: “Cost of living issues affect each of us differently, it may be mortgage or rent bills, energy, access to food or supporting our children and young people through their education and beyond fairly and equitably. Now is the time to work together as communities to help support each other.”

Information on some of the different types of support available locally can be found at https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/communities-and-events/cost-of-living/