Coronavirus pandemic may be easing, but needs continue to grow

COLUMN: The Way I See It by Jim McGillivray

I was very interested to see a photo of my late father in the Northern Times on December 24.

It was a photo taken when he was in his prime in the mid-70s, pushing the Achany Hill Lambs through the Lairg Mart ring when he was also in his prime.

The image surprised him, as usual, displaying his wisdom to an audience of shepherds and small farmers among the enclosures.

He left his half-dozen descendants with many warning sayings. The one that sticks with me for a long time is his opinion that you are only a week away from being hungry and a month away from starving.

Councilor Jim McGillivray.

We may have dined on the road occasionally as bairns, but we were never without food. Innocent times.

Half a century after this photo, we are suddenly living in very uncertain times. There is a sequence of difficult factors surrounding our lives, over which we have no control – Brexit, Covid, rising food prices, dramatically rising fuel prices, and now the military destruction of the world. Ukraine by Putin, all against the backdrop of global warming and climate change.

It’s hard not to feel helpless in the face of planetary problems and a rampaging evil psychopath.

Ordinary people can do extraordinary things, as we saw during the pandemic when everyone pitched in to help those who needed it most.

The pandemic may be waning, but the need, if any, is growing.

Inflation has set in again, food prices are rising accordingly and electricity prices seem set to soar by 50%, a situation that will upset the budgets of many families.

But that’s nothing compared to the life-and-death trauma that Ukrainians are currently facing.

I am chairman of the Sutherland Food Poverty and Fuel Poverty groups. We receive monthly updates from across the county to provide as complete a picture as possible of the growing needs in this area.

But the data by itself says nothing about the problem, and all we can do is lobby MSPs and MPs to highlight the dire straits a significant number of families are now entering.

It looks like there was an answer. The Scottish Government has pledged to provide aid of £150 per household for properties in the AD strip.

Although this is not means-tested, it is tied to the municipal tax system and is a band-aid rather than a remedy.

For its part, Highland Council has agreed to pay a fuel support grant of £180 to each household benefiting from a council tax reduction, as well as to others who fall into certain tax-exempt categories. housing tax.

In addition, people in dire need can apply to the council for emergency aid through the Scottish Welfare Fund.

But everything depends on what will happen in Ukraine from now on. Will the economic ripples of Brexit, Covid and international inflation suddenly turn into a global economic meltdown?

Zelensky, a completely ordinary man, leads his people from the front line, gun in hand. Putin is hiding safely in his palace.

May God help Ukraine. Nobody else seems able to do it.

Councilor Jim McGillivray lives in Embo and represents East Sutherland and Edderton Ward. He has confirmed his intention to stand again in the next municipal elections on Thursday, May 5.

Cllr McGillivray's father
Cllr McGillivray’s father ‘exhibiting his wisdom’ at the Lairg mart some 50 years ago.

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