Recently there was a case in Ireland of a public servant who wrote a letter to the Irish Times stating that his children were going hungry once he had paid the mortgage. Even given the problems in Ireland there was some incredulity expressed by the Irish public but charity experts tracked him down and indeed did find someone who had decided to pay the mortgage rather than feed his children. When it comes to keeping up appearances then people make some stark choices. Hopefully we won't go as far down the pan as Ireland has gone but there is a school of thought that believes our turn will come. Are people having to make similar choices in our area? Sadly they probably are if you take a look at Health Board statistics published on the BBC site.
"Welfare reform and rising fuel prices are among factors expected to increase the number of people in poverty, NHS Highland has warned.
In a new report, the health board covering the Highlands and Argyll and Bute said poverty was the biggest issue in its fight to tackle inequality. About 53,000 people were in poverty in the health board area last year." More on the BBC site.
The beeb article goes on to say that the rural areas around Nairn are some of the least deprived areas in the Health Board area. When you see the nightly queues for take away meals on the High Street and the numbers of cars in the Sainsbury's car park and drive around the West End or even up in the new Lochloy schemes, then you could come away with the impression that Nairn is a very wealthy place. Is this outward impression masking the fact that an increasing number of people in Nairn are finding themselves in difficulty? Poverty is a strange thing to define, I've heard it said that people without DVDs or Video recorders could be classed as poor or people (like this observer) that do not own a car. So it is hard to know where to put a benchmark really or even to define whether poverty is self-inflicted (the result of a fist-full of credit-cards for example) or through no fault of one's own (an endowment not meeting the final mortgage settlement) but regardless of how they got there, there are people in our community in difficulties and their hardships may be invisible to the rest of us.