A FAMILY from Johnstone has insisted more action must be taken to tackle discrimination against families in financial difficulty after it was revealed almost one quarter of children in Renfrewshire are living in poverty.

What’s more, two thirds of those children are living in a home where at least one person is working, a report by the Renfrewshire Community Protection Chief Officers’ Group has shown.

According to the report, the number of kids living in deprivation in the area is expected to keep climbing and poverty is projected to rise amongst the young, those in work and those renting.

The Child Poverty Action Group has also said children in large families are at a far greater risk of poverty, with 42 per cent of children in the UK in families with three or more children living in poverty.

In addition, studies in recent years have also shown families with disabled children are more likely to slip into poverty.

Heather Morrison, an unemployed mum-of-three who lives in Johnstone, has a son, David, who suffers from ADHD.

She told the Gazette she finds herself up against it financially a lot of the time, especially when it comes to Christmas and birthdays for David and his sisters, Malisa and Claire.

And she said discrimination and a lack of investment in support services are the main problems she sees as a catalyst for poverty.

Heather said: “It’s not hard all the time, but it is sometimes.

“It’s when it gets to Christmas and birthdays that money really becomes an issue.

“School uniforms and clothes are also difficult to afford.

“I have tried to find work but I find people who are meant to help you find work speak to you like you’re dirt. There is a lot of discrimination against people who have been out of work for a while.

“I don’t have a lot of confidence, my nerves get the better of me, and I think there needs to be more support for people struggling to get into work.

“I would like to see more investment in services as well.”

Jamie Doyle, dad of David, Claire and Malisa, said he was out of work for 10 years before securing a job as a pub doorman.

And he said he was treated poorly when he was unemployed and not given proper support.

He said: “I was unemployed for a while and I found it difficult to deal with the way they looked at me.

“You are basically seen as scum.”

Renfrewshire Council says it is well aware of the problem of child poverty in the area, and is fully committed to addressing an issue that blights lives.

In its budget in March, the council outlined a £5million boost to the programme Tackling Poverty over the next five years and also committed to funding Families First over the same period.

Families First, which has bases in Johnstone, Gallowhill and Foxbar, works with families who struggle to cope on their own and it is a service Heather and Jamie have turned to for support.

Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “The council committed £5m to fund the pioneering Tackling Poverty programme over the next five years, so we can support children and families who need it most through initiatives we know are effective.

“One of the key programmes, Families First, has helped more than 700 families and has maximised their income by almost £2.9m and managed more than £300,000 of debt.

“We continue to work with families and help them to identify other support that they would benefit from – whether that’s financial or family life support.

“We also support children from low-income families to enjoy the same experiences at school as their more affluent peers through the Cost of the School Day fund.

“Our breakfast clubs provide healthy morning meals to ensure children get a great start to the day and help keep their minds active.

“Our schools are also changing the pattern between poverty and attainment as an Attainment Challenge authority, with the Renfrewshire Literacy Approach being recognised for its positive effects on the teaching of reading for all children.”

People can join the network of campaigners for the Child Poverty Action Group or donate to help the charity continue its work.

For more information about child poverty and what you can do to help, visit www.cpag.org.uk