A young mum struggles up the street, it's raining and she's not wearing a coat, the handles of her buggy are ladened with heavy shopping bags.

Her child’s wailing for a snack, for every parent knows kids always start wailing for a snack when you’re at your most harassed. One of the wheels goes on her buggy. Do you go over, take a few of her bags and help her walk up the steep hill ahead with a kind word? Or would you look the other way, leaving her in an impossible situation, unable to take another single step forward? Step in to help or claim it’s nothing to do with you? These are the questions that the charity One Parent Families Scotland is asking policy- makers in its campaign, End Young Parent Poverty: Top up the Scottish Child Payment.

In Scotland young single parents under 25 lose out by £65 a month compared to those over 26 on Universal Credit. Of course, this makes no sense; younger people often pay the same amount of rent, have the same bodies to clothe and keep clean, the same bellies to fill and the same houses to heat as someone a mere year older. This becomes even harsher for young parents, who should be more supported, not less. Young parents are already penalised as they often struggle to enter the workforce due to childcare responsibilities and interrupted education. When they do start working, they are also likely to earn less because those under 23 are entitled only to the lower minimum wage.

One Parent Families Scotland is asking for two actions to rectify this and ensure young parents have the best chances at fulfilling their potential while their kids have the best possible start in life. First it is appealing to Westminster to ensure young parents’ benefits are brought in line with those over the age of 26. But, recognising, as I’m sure we all do, that we cannot afford to wait while children go hungry, it is calling for the Scottish Government to implement a top-up in Scottish Child Payment to make up this shortfall under its devolved powers.

Read more: Buckingham Palace and me – the day I was invited to tea

Almost half (47%) of children with mothers under 25 in Scotland are single parents who are most likely to lose out from the move to Universal Credit. Additionally, care-experienced young women aged 14-24 are two to three times more likely to give birth than their non-care-experienced peers. These are often vulnerable young people doing one of life’s most difficult and important jobs and they surely need to be supported not arbitrarily penalised?

It’s not exactly a hot take to say that often the benefit system, and Universal Credit in particular, has not been designed to be fit for purpose. It was created by people with spreadsheets, and, if we’re being generous, perhaps with good intentions, but clearly very little day-to-day knowledge of the lives of those on the breadline. The glaring omissions and impossible hoops to jump through are well documented. Now, a full decade after it was implemented, there are still holes in this vital safety net, a glitch in the spreadsheet, and this is one of those examples.

You might be wondering why I feel so strongly about this. It's because I was almost a young single mum myself at 16, following in my mum’s footsteps who had me when she was 21.

What led my mother to young single motherhood was pretty much the same thing that brought me to the same crossroads. She had grown up poor, the world didn't expect anything much of her and so she left school at 15, just as I did. She went to work as a waitress, just as I did. She spent her nights at the discos chasing whatever joy she could find, just as I did, though they were called clubs by then. My remaining choices were taken away by a much older man who didn’t understand the term no means no.

I looked at my options and I knew that I wanted to break the cycle. It’s possible I could have done all I have done in adulthood whilst raising a child at age 17 with multiple complex mental health problems and a chaotic lifestyle. Instead, I spent my late teens at college, to get myself away from the bad habits and influences of my hometown and then working my way up the charity sector in London until I was project manager of a £1 million children’s charity project.

Read more: The Scots women who were victims of 'the silent thalidomide'

But I know just how vulnerable I would have been if I’d had that child in my teens. I know how deeply painful and difficult it would have been to try and navigate my own late teens or early twenties while also trying to raise a child, let alone while scraping for every penny. I’m sure there would have been joy, love and reward but I’m under no illusions, even now, that my choice was for the best, as painful and awful as that decision was at the time.

I am a besotted mother now at the age of 42. And, like every parent, I want my child to have everything and I would do anything for them. I know that must be true of each and every young person out there trying to do their best. Now is not the time for political point-scoring or claiming that nothing can be done. A serious oversight has been made by Westminster that can be made right by the Holyrood. Let's do better. Let's be better.

Let's go up to that young woman standing in the rain, take a few of her bags off her buggy, tell her we wish her well, that it’s hard work but she’s doing a good job.  Let’s help her, and all young parents, keep walking forward. Because it's not just her life that we are shaping in these years but also the life of her child.

You can write to your MSP by visiting One Parent Families Scotland’s website. It takes less than a minute and could make countless children’s lives better. Young families shouldn't have to go hungry because someone made a mistake on their spreadsheet somewhere in Westminster, let’s mend the hole in the safety net.