The Big Hoose Fife Project Keeping Children Out Of Care

  • 4 October 2023







Families supported by the Cottage Family Centre - Big Hoose Project “Multibank” initiative have admitted that without such support they would have had to put their children into care, a survey for the project reveals today.


 More than one in ten of the parents supported by the pioneering scheme said the products they had received were the difference between them being able to keep their children at home or having to put them in care.


 Speaking today as the project marks the distribution of 1.5 million essential products since its launch in 2022, Cottage Family Centre Strategic Manager Pauline Buchan,   Cottage chair Marilyn Livingstone MBE and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown who is Cottage Patron called on retailers  and manufacturers to do more to help destitute families to avoid a poverty crisis this winter.


 The Big Hoose Project was founded in 2021 and has brought together over 30 major companies led by Amazon providing surplus goods to support families in need with a second project opening in Wigan earlier this year coordinated by the Brick.


Under a new organisation called the National Family Centre, the project has been rolled out in Greater Manchester to tackle what the organisers described as the worst levels of poverty seen in their lifetimes.


Following an SROI commissioned by Amazon and an evaluation commissioned by The Cottage Family Centre undertaken by Social Value Lab, 55% of parents and carers who received goods said the support they had received had enabled them to deal with critical issues quicker and potentially avoid a crisis situation.


Three-quarters of parents and carers have noticed an improvement in family relationships.


Over a tenth (11%) said it prevented a breakdown in their tenancy situation or their children going into care.


A further 90% of parents and carers said reduced debt and allowed them to spend money on food and heating.


Problems associated with the cost-of-living crisis was the most commonly cited reason for charities making referrals to the Big Hoose Project.


Speaking today in Fife, as the 1.5 million landmark passed Pauline Buchan Cottage Strategic Manager said:


‘This evaluation has allowed us to break down the statistics and see the real impact of poverty on families lives every day. We know that where poverty exists, it comes with a multitude of other challenges which create vulnerability, trauma, abuse and an existence for those experiencing it rather than an ability to lead a fulfilling and healthy life.


The effects are also felt on a daily basis by the staff who provide support to families in services, schools and charities across the country as they battle every day to stay in a sector they love and care for while not having the means to make a difference to those they are supporting because the resources to do so simply aren’t there.


I want to personally thank the families across Fife for their honesty and trust in us during the evaluation process, I know this could not have been easy for any of them and for them to know that we will continue to do everything we can to meet their needs in their time of need.’

Cottage Chair Marilyn Livingstone said:


Marilyn Livingstone, Chairperson of the Cottage Family Centre said:  “The Big Hoose project has played a crucial role over the past months in supporting the most vulnerable in our communities and has allowed many families to better weather this terrible cost of living crisis, which has impacted on every aspect of their lives.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to the amazing success of this project 


At the same time Mr Brown as Patron paid tribute to the donations from Amazon and 30 companies now suppliers to the multibank including Fishers Laundry, Craig & Rose Paint, Morrisons, The Paint Shed, _P and G,  Reckitt , Accrol ,Steelite ,  Heinz, Blue Earth Clean, Tesco, SemiChem, Vision, Morrisons, Scotmid, Purvis, PepsiCo the Bell Group and others.


The 1.5 million donated goods includes bedding, toilet roll, nappies, wipes and toiletries, backpacks, home furnishings, lightings, as well as tinned food, clothing and footwear.


Mr Brown also thanked Bob Purvis, Chairman of The Purvis Group for his continued support in providing the project with its warehouse in Lochgelly free of charge.


He also said that the need for the multibank exposed the reality of poverty in modern Britain.


 “The shocking fact is that, for thousands of families across Britain, charity is now the only thing that is keeping them together. The truth is that it's often not down to bad parenting that children are being forced into care. It's because their mums and dads can't afford to feed them, clothe them, or even buy them a bar of soap."


 “More than one in ten of the parents we have helped would have had to put their children into care were it not for the essential products they’ve been given. This is the extent of poverty today.”


 “I thank Amazon and other good companies for their work on this project. Together, we are creating a path-breaking new model, where big corporations can do real social good at a grassroots level while at the same time creating a circular economy where we repurpose goods.’


 “But it’s time for us to come together and ask more companies to help too, ahead of what promises to be another tough winter.”