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Rise in foodbank demand

SHETLAND Foodbank, based at Lerwick’s St Magnus Street, has seen a slight increase in demand over the last 12 months – and the proportion of islanders requiring food parcels is significantly higher than the national average.

Its manager David Grieve said the foodbank, run by the Trussell Trust, had given out 494 emergency food parcels in the last year, including 47 to children – an increase of 14 on the previous 12 months.

Over the same period it received eight tonnes of food in donations, worth an estimated £13,500, from the general public, schools, businesses and churches.

The 4.23 food parcels per 100 people handed out in Shetland is well above the Scottish average of 2.71. It is almost quadruple the level in Aberdeen and higher than the 3.39 level recorded in Orkney.

Grieve said the rise in demand, which is echoed nationally, is partly due to continued problems with changes to benefits and the roll-out of the universal credit scheme, which means it can take around six weeks for payments to come through.

David Grieve of the Shetland Foodbank.

The service continues to offer items like washing powder, nappies and sanitary products alongside the food parcels, while it has been working with the local Citizens’ Advice Bureau to provide support in areas such as welfare and debt.

Grieve said that people from all walks of life may end up needing help from the foodbank, with illness and redundancy other reasons why people may need support.

“It is deeply concerning that we are still seeing an increase in the number of emergency food supplies provided to local people in crisis in Shetland over the last year,” he said.

“Each client receives sufficient food for a week and which is planned to be quick and economical to cook, allowing clients to save electricity costs as well – essential when funds are limited.

“Every week people are referred to us after being hit by something unavoidable and unexpected such as illness, redundancy, a delay in a benefit payment or an unexpected bill which means food is simply unaffordable.

“It really is only with the community’s support that we are able to provide this vital emergency help when it matters most.”

The foodbank receives regular monthly donations from a number of supporters to help pay its bills and Grieve is always keen to hear from potential donors.

He added that he wants to “offer his most sincere thanks to everyone in Shetland who so generously donates time, food and money to help local people. If you’re not already involved, we’d love to hear from you!”

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021