By Ewan Gurr, Scotland Network Manger for the Trussel Trust: We, at The Trussell Trust, were responsible for making the controversial decision to invite David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary and Scotland's only Conservative MP, to open our Dumfriesshire foodbank, which will serve people in a large section of his constituency. People were angry with us for doing so, and I want to explain our reasoning.

We now live in a post-referendum Scotland where our people have experienced a cultural re-awakening and level of political re-engagement that has energised those on both sides of the debate. The outcome challenged me personally to consider how I can effectively engage with a UK Government that retains a number of key decision-making responsibilities in areas that can either ease or increase the pressure on the many men, women and children with whom I work in our foodbanks.

Over 100 anti-austerity protestors used their democratic right to protest Mundell’s decision to accept the invitation to open the foodbank. The Trussel Trust also received a number of complaints and I understand why. Mundell has previously rejected claims that UK government welfare reforms are linked to the increased demand for emergency food.

He told Holyrood's Welfare Reform Committee in February: "The three issues that are most commonly raised in relation to food banks are sanctions, delays in benefit payments and low income. I do not accept that those three issues are welfare reform issues."

Significantly, our Dumfriesshire foodbank is not the only one serving those in Mundell’s constituency. He also opened the Peeblesshire foodbank in front of 100 people in October 2013.

At the Holyrood committee in February, Mundell also made an appeal for examples of unfair and excessive sanctioning, and The Trussell Trust was the first charity to make a submission.

The first case we cited was Suzanne, who is a married mother of two. She had been living a comfortable middle class life when her husband had a nervous breakdown while they were both living and working in London. They lost their jobs and their home before relocating to Scotland where they experienced a 14% deduction to their housing benefit - shortly after being placed in a house with a spare bedroom and falling foul of the bedroom tax - and a benefit sanction due to a clerical error. Due to lack of food, Suzanne had to give up breastfeeding after six weeks because of malnutrition, and both she and her husband lost eight stone in weight over two years.

I understand the outrage caused by Mundell's visit and have received several complaints, one of which said I had “betrayed” the people we serve, and sabotaged their trust. As someone who has experienced the impact of food poverty personally, I am disappointed that people feel that way. My motivation is to build as many constructive relationships with elected representatives as possible to highlight the pain and suffering created by a lack of access to food. I take the names, faces and stories of those I meet at foodbanks into meetings with policy-makers every week. No matter how hopeless it may appear, I only hope that our policy-makers think of those same stories when they make life-changing decisions.

On Friday, when Mundell arrived, I was able to talk directly to Scotland’s only UK Cabinet minister about food poverty and its causes. I also listened to the protestors outside who expressed their grievances. I talked with John the trade unionist, who had organised the protest. I shared a sandwich with a protestor called Ian, who was in a wheelchair having only recently lost his leg due to ill-health. And finally, I spoke to a man who had spent the last of his money on a bus to “protest against the Tories”. Call me an idealist - or even plain stupid if you like - but surely we need to engage with people on both sides of the debate if we are ever to bring about change?

I believe in tackling poverty and need on a practical level while at the same time raising these concerns at a political level. This is crucial if we are ever to ensure our policy-makers prioritise care for the most vulnerable. People may disagree over how best to achieve influence, but what matters most is telling the stories of those we help every day in foodbanks to those who have the power to do something about it.