Food banks claim record Christmas usage in Scotland
A record number of people in Scotland used food banks over the Christmas week, according to a charity which runs them.
The Trussell Trust estimates more than 7,000 people needed help in the third week of December.
The trust, which runs the biggest network of food banks in the UK, said it had seen a sharp increase on previous years.
It claimed food bank use had grown by 17% in the past six months.
Ewan Gurr, Scotland network manager of the Trussell Trust, told BBC Scotland that 7,000 men, women and children accessing three-day emergency food supplies over the Christmas week was a "conservative estimate".
He said the third week of December was the busiest week of the year and in 2014 there were 5,818 people who used food banks in Scotland.
Mr Gurr said people had been driven to rely on charity due to low incomes, increased winter fuel bills and the absence of free school meals during the holidays.
He said: "We are not talking about misplaced spending priorities. We are talking about struggling to keep their heads above water.
"Over the past four years we have seen a consistent increase in Scotland.
"It is not decreasing. It is not even plateau-ing.
"I don't think we have seen the worst of the financial famine families are experiencing just yet."
He added: "I think it is going to get more difficult and darker for families unless we take serious political action to decrease the pressures men, women and children are experiencing."