Increase in demand for food parcels met by volunteers

Galashiels Food Bank has been delivering bags of essentials to those in need for six years, with volunteers from local churches delivering around 25 parcels a week.

Monday, 27th April 2020, 3:25 pm
Updated Friday, 1st May 2020, 9:11 am
The team of volunteers putting together this week's deliveries.

It has been a godsend to those who found themselves in financial hardship in the town, as well as Clovenfords, Tweedbank and Melrose.

However, like many such ventures, the demand for its services has increased massively since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, and many of the original volunteers have had to self-isolate.

New volunteers were only too happy to step up to the plate, however, and the team now delivers around 200 parcels a week.

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Organiser Father Philip Blackledge of Holy Trinity Church in Melrose, said: “Like so many parts of our lives, everything changed with Covid-19, and the lockdown.

“Many of the good folk who ran the food bank for years had to self-isolate, but there is love and charity in our communities, and it has been shown in abundance.

“Without a single appeal being made, volunteers offered their services, and the food bank is not only up and running, but running at full pelt.”

But it has not been without its problems.

Fr Blackledge explained: “Things had to change quickly. Working out how to maintain appropriate social distancing in a small room where we store the food was not easy. Added to that food donations dropped, due to people shopping less and having less money available.

“However, the incredible kindness of the local churches, individuals and communities stepped in, and despite the fact that the workload of the foodbank increased to nearly 200, there has been money to cover it, as well as volunteers to do the immense work of shopping for the food, packing bags and delivering to the people who need it.

“One new volunteer not only has worked all hours in collecting food, stocktaking and delivering, but has raised money for the project, resulting in the largest donation the foodbank has ever had, well in excess of £1,000.

“The foodbank does not work alone. There is amazing work done by Cafe Recharge CiC, TD1 Youth Hub and Langlee Early Years, among others, who give their time, expertise and good will in making sure that the needs of those who are hungry are being met.”

He urged any resident in the area to get in touch – by emailing [email protected] – if they were struggling, no matter what their beliefs were.

He commented: “The most important thing to know about the food bank is that it is there if you are hungry. Things are tough for many just now, but no-one need to struggle for food.

“It says in the bible in many places, that God is love.

“Whether you are a believer or not, one look at what goes on in the food bank will show you that there is love in the time of corona, and it is there in abundance.

“When the food bank was set up six years ago by the Baptist Church, it was underpinned by the phrase: ‘Where love and charity is, God is there’.”