YOUNGSTERS who have been exploring poverty in Renfrewshire got the chance to challenge a local politician on the issue.

Members of the Flexible Learning Resource Renfrew welcomed Derek Mackay to their base at Renfrew High School on Monday.

The Renfrewshire North and West MSP, who is also Scotland’s finance secretary, took questions on poverty and how the Scottish Government is trying to tackle it.

The specially arranged Q&A, which was part of the Poverty Alliance’s Challenge Poverty campaign, was the culmination of the teenagers’ exploration of how the issue affects people’s daily lives.

Peter Kelly, of the Poverty Alliance, said: “Poverty restricts the choices people can make, forcing them into impossible situations such as choosing either to heat their homes or pay their rent. With rising living costs and unstable work, our economy is holding people down and stopping many from choosing their own path.”

The Gazette:

According to the Poverty Alliance, more than 20 per cent of children in Renfrewshire are living in poverty.

This amounts to nearly 7,000 youngsters, with 6,000 of them hailing from families with a working adult.

Organisers hope Monday’s event will increase awareness of the challenges faced by those struggling to make ends meet.

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Mr Mackay said: “I was delighted to go back to my old school, Renfrew High, to discuss the issue of poverty with the group.

“They asked many excellent questions as they presented their work on poverty and disadvantage.

The Gazette:

“They certainly did a good ‘Question Time.’ I also heard first hand of the life experiences of the young people and reflected on my own background, turning adversity into opportunity.

“As a local boy, I hope I have given them some encouragement that things can change for the better.”

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