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In-demand food bank opens new premises

The Trussell Trust's Jim Robertson (left) and Ewan Gurr (right) pictured with David Grieve and Angela Nunn. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetnews

SHETLAND’s food bank formally opened its new premises on Lerwick’s St Magnus Street on Friday afternoon with demand for the service remaining high.

The bank, formerly located at the Salvation Army building on the town’s Commercial Road, now falls under the umbrella of national organisation the Trussell Trust.

Angela Nunn, who runs Shetland Foodbank alongside David Grieve, said demand is “not getting any smaller”, with the amount of parcels distributed so far this year outstripping the same period for 2015 by one month’s worth.

The service was launched on Friday afternoon, with attendees including councillors and social workers.

Pastor Jamie Tonge from Lerwick-based New Life Church, which is involved in the project, opened the launch event with a speech stating that the church was at the “forefront of social concern”.

Trussell Trust’s Scotland network manager Ewan Gurr followed by telling attendees that he has seen lives “utterly transformed” by food banks.

Some of the assorted foodstuffs assembled at the food bank's new premises. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetnews

“They are not something to be ashamed of. We should be ashamed about food poverty,” he said.

Angela Nunn said in a speech that the launch of Shetland Foodbank was a “new chapter in a long and very old book”, with the 2008 credit crunch and subsequent austerity making more people than ever reliant on food hand-outs.

She added that in the old premises she had seen “people come in crying tears of shame, but leaving with a smile”.

From January to July this year, the food bank issued a total of 236 parcels.

Grieve said he felt demand for the service would stay strong, with a slow-down in the oil and gas sector and the completion of the Shetland Gas Plant construction project creating employment uncertainty.

“I can only foresee that demand will continue to rise because of the present economic situation in Shetland,” he said.

“The Total project has begun to wind down and that will have an effect – even on things like the country shops. There will be people who will lose hours of work, just because of that.

Angela Nunn speaking during Friday afternoon's opening. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetnews

“Look at the wider economy too and the whole question of where we’re going.”

The food bank is located above the Skills Centre at 20 St Magnus Street, which teaches woodwork and is linked to the New Life Church.

The premises are currently packed with donations from Tesco customers collected during its recent Fareshare collection.

Grieve said the current stock of around 150 crates of food should last until November, with churches and others regularly donating items too.

The food bank will continue to work in tandem with the local Salvation Army branch, which will continue to offer household materials such as bedding and kitchen items.

Nunn said that by working in conjunction with the Trussell Trust, which coordinates a network of 400 food banks across the UK, the project will enjoy a clearer focus than it did when it was operated through the Salvation Army.

“It gives us a narrow remit to do one thing and to try to excel in that,” she said, “rather than being spread much more broadly.”

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