Coronavirus affects poorest parts of the region

Figures suggest the poorest areas of the country are being worst affected by coronavirus, with more deaths and more people feeling the economic impact.

In north west Dumfries, officially classed as one of the most deprived parts of Scotland, many people are feeling the financial effects of the pandemic.

Jade Caven is a volunteer in the Lochside area who helps to distribute food to those in need. She's also unemployed and one of those relying on the service being provided by a community group, called LIFT, Lochside is Families Together.

"I'd starve if it wasn't for LIFT some weeks," she says. "Genuinely I think there are a lot of people like that. Some of the people we deliver to are in tears on the doorstep because they're so grateful for the food they are receiving."

Dumfries and Galloway has already reached its highest jobless total for 20 years, according to unemployment figures and nationwide what's emerging is a picture of the most deprived areas being hardest hit.

New figures show:

  • Across Britain as a whole a third of the lowest paid workers have lost their jobs or been furloughed in the past two months, compared to just 10 percent of the top earners.

  • In Scotland's most deprived areas people are more than twice as likely to die with Covid 19 than in the most affluent parts

  • And nearly half of families with children in Scotland are struggling to make ends meet

Credit: ITV News

Angela Gilmour, Project Manager of LIFT D&G says there's a sense that people are facing real hardship.

"Low income families are really struggling but as well those used to having a monthly pay have been furloughed so that's taken away from them. Everybody is in the same boat. Normally we are supporting people in our community that are in need. That need has gone up tenfold."

Several community groups here are helping people and as well as seeing the financial hardships, they are witnessing the health effect of the coronavirus.

"I am aware of several cases where sadly some older members of our community have passed on through contracting the virus and that's had a real devastating effect on people who have known these families," says Anne-Marie Coulter from Summerhill Community Centre." Also I'm aware of people who have contracted the virus and they have very successfully recovered."

Dean Goddard, from Dumfries YMCA, says all the agencies are working together to support people.

Credit: ITV News

"It's great to see the way people have responded. None of us can do it on our own. We've come together and joined our resources."

But there is a warning from a food bank in the town centre. The First Base Agency has also seen a dramatic rise in the number of people it's helping. The manager, Mark Frankland, believes this may be just the start of the financial challenges for people.

"The worst of it will be next winter. The worst of it comes when the furlough scheme finishes, when the self-employment support finishes, and the economy really does look like it's going to be in ruins. We hope all the money doesn't get thrown at this now because next winter is going to be brutal."

Whatever difficulties the economy faces in the months ahead it's communities like this that are expected to feel it the most.