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Community / Foodbank seeks extra hands to sort through donations

Local foodbank co-ordinator David Grieve. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

SHETLAND Foodbank is looking for volunteers to help sort through donations received in the build-up to Christmas.

People are asked to come along to the foodbank on Lerwick’s St Magnus Street on Saturday (28 December) between 2pm and 4pm.

Extra hands are needed to sort through donations and pack items into crates.

Latest figures showed that in the six months leading to the end of October, 481 food parcels were given out to support 727 people (553 adults and 174 children).

This represented a 58 per cent increase in the number of parcels distributed compared to the same period the year before.

Co-ordinator David Grieve said in November that there was a 143 per cent rise in the numbers of children being supported.

He added that “people in our community facing a crisis situation are referred to the Shetland Foodbank by 18 different statutory or voluntary support agencies”.

Almost 70 per cent of the referrals came from social workers, Shetland Islands Council’s housing support service, Job Centre Plus and the local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Grieve said in November that the main reasons for people needing the foodbank in Shetland are concerned with the benefits system.

“Delays in payment of, or changes to, benefits, or the debts incurred while people wait for their first payment are the main reasons forcing people to seek help,” he said.

Living Lerwick, meanwhile, handed Christmas donations to the foodbank last week.

The town centre organisation also contributed food and gifts to the local Food for the Way scheme, which is a “church based group bringing people together with friendship and food”.

The handover of items to the foodbank. From left to right: Martyn Neeson (Don Leslie’s), Steve Mathieson (Living Lerwick chairman), Edna Irvine (Living Lerwick), David Grieve (Shetland Foodbank).

Between the donations from the public, and the purchase of gifts and food from local shops, almost £2,500 worth of items have been donated.

Don Leslie’s donation of food more than doubled the cash value paid, and other town centre shops provided discounts on items bought for the appeal.

Living Lerwick received £1,500 of funding from Improvement Districts Scotland Ltd to provide a project with a community benefit, with the organisation deciding to support the Shetland Foodbank and Food for the Way causes.

Living Lerwick chairman Steve Mathieson said: “We are very grateful to Improvement Districts Scotland and the two local distribution agencies who are assisting us with this appeal.

“It’s a difficult time of year for people who have less than others and if we are able to help, with the assistance of local businesses, then we are delighted to make Christmas that bit better for a few people.”