Originally from Ardross in the Scottish Highlands, Alan Bell is the founder of the Scottish Centre for Personal Safety Centre in Ardrossan.

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A few of our service users recently raised concerns regarding food reductions and food waste in our large supermarkets.

You may remember, I wrote an article about it a couple of months ago.

Most of the feedback this article generated online showed support for the women and disabled people who had raised these concerns and agreed that supermarkets should be reviewing their policy of food reductions to ensure people on low or no incomes access cheaper food rather than it going to waste.

However, a few people commented that it wasn’t our business and that the Scottish Centre for Personal Safety shouldn't be writing about supermarket food reduction policies - that we should stick to safety advice and self defence training.

My response is to remind those people that many female victims of domestic abuse have fled their violent partner with nothing but the clothes on their back and their children.

They need every penny that they can save. So, if during counselling or chatting with them in a training session, they reveal that they are concerned that they can’t make ends meet, that the food reductions they depended upon have stopped, then of course we will highlight this on their behalf.

Personal safety and personal survival, in my opinion, go hand-in-hand.

Now since these concerns were raised to us, other concerns have also been brought to our attention by our service users. Small things that were given out free by the council have now been withdrawn, forcing people to purchase their own - which is great if you can afford it, but not good if you can’t.

Two of the items I want to focus on are dog poo bags and food waste bags.

Dog poo bags have been given out free of charge by the council for many years now. The original idea was to encourage people, particularly those on low or no incomes, to pick up their dog waste instead of leaving it in the street or grass.

The council has decided to stop issuing free dog bags in local libraries and council offices in the hope that people will purchase their own.

I think this is a slippery slope (if you'll  pardon the pun).

I know it only costs a pound or two to buy a hundred dog bags, but if every penny counts and you are struggling to heat your home and feed your family, would you spend your money on dog bags?

People didn’t before – this is why the council decided to issue them for free.

I think it is only a matter of time before we start to see an abundance of dog poo in our parks, grass areas and on our streets. A slippery slope indeed.   

Likewise with food waste bags, the council wanted to encourage people to use their brown bin for food waste and even went to the bother of issuing small food waste containers to every household, as well as bags via the bin men, in a bid to encourage people to dispose of their food waste correctly.

Now the council have decided to stop issuing food waste bags.

Will people buy their own? Of course not. The food waste will just be dumped back into our normal black bins.

It’s like the idea to charge for garden waste that is being bandied about. I guarantee this will lead to people bagging up their garden waste and shoving it into the black bin. Brown bins, for many people, will become redundant.

The council needs to take a step back and remember why these initiatives were implemented in the first place – to make our communities better places to live in. In a time of austerity, we really should not be hoping that people struggling to pay bills and eat, will purchase dog waste bags and food waste bags.

And we definitely should not be thinking about penalising people for having a garden.

And for anyone reading this and thinking "what has this got to do with The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety?", I give you two answers.

Firstly, we don’t just teach personal safety and self defence skills - we also provide an element of counselling to help people recover from trauma, to help them maintain good physical and mental health.

Having access to affordable food obviously helps vulnerable people stay physically healthy and also prevents them worrying about how to feed their family.

Secondly, my Ardross-man articles cover many topics - they are not just about my charity. I’ve written about local history, discoveries in the Barony Church, my deteriorating health conditions, Buffalo Bill and Edgar Allan Poe, to name but a few to highlight the diversity of my articles.

And I will continue to write about things that are causing local people concern and are of interest to them.

If you don’t like it, remember this article next time you step in dog poo in the street. It’s only going to get worse.

However, if you would like to know more about the work The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety does, or if you want to read our Social Impact Reports in full, please visit our website - www.ScotCPS.org.uk.

In the meantime, stay safe - and try not to slip...