Aberdeen, renowned as Europe’s Oil and Gas capital, faces a stark reality of economic disparity and increasing poverty during the prevailing cost-of-living crisis. An employee at CFINE, an organization dedicated to aiding those in need, witnesses daily contradictions of wealth and hardship. Today, it’s a breakdown of a green Lamborghini outside a homeless hostel – a symbol of the city’s struggle with inequality.
The individual, accustomed to these paradoxes, draws a direct connection between the oil and gas industry and Aberdeen’s economic imbalances. It’s highlighted that the uneven distribution of wealth has a harmful impact on the self-esteem of the city’s less fortunate.
The UK, grappling with a cost-of-living crisis, has witnessed a surge in the prices of bills and everyday goods, outpacing stagnant wages. Real wages declined by 2.6% last winter, leaving workers £11,000 worse off annually compared to fifteen years ago. This financial stagnation is compounded by soaring prices of food, energy bills, and fuel. In June, fuel inflation reached 7.3%, and by July, food inflation had risen to 14.9%, mirroring the struggles faced by the entire nation.
Organizations like CFINE and Tillydrone Community Flat play a vital role in aiding those affected by this crisis. CFINE, in March alone, distributed 4414 emergency food parcels, a substantial increase from the previous year’s 2770 parcels. Tillydrone Community Flat, operating a food bank since 2012, has witnessed its demand surge from 993 parcels in 2021/2022 to 2500 in 2023, driven in part by an influx of African immigrants facing financial challenges.
An employee at Tillydrone notes the changing nature of requests, from necessities like shoes and cleaning products to the more basic need for warmth. The harsh reality is that in a city renowned for its affluence, people are seeking refuge in community flats just to stay warm.
The FAIRER Aberdeen fund allocates £65,000 annually to Tillydrone Community Flat, supporting 33 local organizations aiding 35,000 of Aberdeen’s most vulnerable citizens. Despite such efforts, individuals leading community action groups highlight public apathy as a significant obstacle to positive change.
An individual from CFINE attributes the surge in demand to both the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. Former donors are now struggling due to increased food prices, emphasizing how close many are to falling into poverty. As rightly pointed out, “Most people are only 2 or 3 pay cheques away from an absolute crisis; anyone can fall into poverty.”
A personal account reflects this vulnerability. A worker who lost a job during the pandemic after a health scare now relies on disability benefits. The cost-of-living crisis affects not only access to food but also the ability to afford essentials like appliances. Charities step in to help, providing social security support and ensuring individuals receive the assistance they are entitled to.
AberNecessities, addressing the dire needs of children in poverty, witnesses a 900% increase in service demand since 2021. The charity now estimates that over 1 in 5 children in Aberdeen live in poverty. A supporter shares heart breaking stories of children unable to celebrate birthdays and families dreading school holidays due to financial constraints.
As Aberdeen grapples with these challenges, the irony is not lost on its residents. Despite being the energy capital of Europe, some can’t afford basic necessities, like heating their homes. The struggle for survival intensifies in a city that, for many, epitomizes prosperity. Aberdeen’s tale of wealth and want serves as a poignant reminder of the broader implications of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.