Comment: ‘We cannot simply stand by and watch’

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The image of a young boy pleading for more food because his parents cannot afford to feed him is simply heartbreaking.

We are sadly used to hearing such terrible stories from far-off, poverty-stricken countries and reading about them in history books.

But the fact that such a scene can actually be played out in the Capital in 2013 is both shocking and shameful.

The cupboards in most homes across the city will be groaning with food today as we prepare to celebrate Christmas with family and friends. There will, for most of us, be piles of presents under the Christmas tree, too.

The reality, though, for what appears to be a growing number of people is that all of this is way beyond their reach.

Today we reveal that almost 2000 children – and more than 4000 adults – will rely on a food bank for their Christmas dinner this year.

The reasons for this growing reliance on charity are not clear. The impact of benefit reforms, including the so-called bedroom tax, may be one contributing factor. Cuts to social services other vital assistance provided by cash-strapped charities may be another. The soaring cost of fuel bills is almost certainly part of the picture.

The truth is that we simply do not know exactly what is driving thousands of families in 
Edinburgh so deep into poverty that they cannot afford to feed themselves.

What is clear is that we cannot simply stand by and watch.

At a political level, Chris Mould of the Trussell Trust is right that the time has come for an in-depth examination of what has gone wrong, instigated if necessary by the Scottish Parliament.

This is far too important a question to be allowed to descend into political point-scoring. We need to know the reasons why people are finding themselves in such hopeless situations before we can take effective action stop it 
happening.

At a personal level, we can all do our bit to help those that suffering right now. We can donate to our local food bank or to one of the many excellent charities who are working in Edinburgh day in, day out to tackle the effects of poverty.

We wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas. Everyone should be able to spend this time of year enjoying themselves with family and friends.

And we should all remember that the spirit of Christmas also means lending a helping hand to those less fortunate than ourselves when we can.