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Community / Well supported foodbank essential for many in the isles

Foodbank service manager David Grieve (left) with some organisation's volunteers: Peter Johnson, Kathleen Johnson, Morag Maver, Jenny Charman, Sue O’Dell and Rose Neise. Photo: Shetland News

AT LEAST one per cent of the islands population, and possibly more, are using the Shetland Foodbank on a regular basis.

As the demand for emergency food parcels during the ongoing cost of living crisis rises, Shetland Foodbank says that thanks to the generosity of local people the shelves at its St Magnus Street base continue to be well stocked.

And although the increase in demand locally is not on the same level than reported nationally, volunteers at the foodbank still distribute more than 1,000 emergency food parcels to local people annually.

Despite a buoyant economy with hundreds of vacant jobs throughout the isles, demand for the services provided by Shetland Foodbank shows no signs of abating.

Service manager David Grieve said the figures for Scotland, and Shetland, were better than those published for the whole of the UK, which may well be due to the additional benefit payments the Scottish Government has introduced over recent years, he said.

However, at the same time the reasons for people needing the support of their local foodbank are similar to anywhere else: delays in benefit payments, increase in benefit payments below the level of inflation, high energy prices, low wages and in-employment poverty.

Grieve said the economy on the one hand and those who are struggling on the other appear to exist parallel to each other.

“For all sorts of reasons, some people will find it very difficult to physically get back into full employment; it is a massive challenge for people, and these are the clients we are often seeing,” he said.

“People who struggling to cope, and would really struggle in a work environment. Some of the people are simply not able to fill these vacancies.”

And he praised the caring community that pulled out all the stops to support the foodbank and its pool of 20 regular volunteers.

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“This is the sound economy in Shetland,” he said. “A lot of people are prepared to support us; we have loads of food donations from across the islands regularly, and we also get a lot of financial support. Money at the door is quite common pre-Christmas.”

Volunteers will be at the local Tesco supermarket today (Friday) and Saturday to speak to customers to encourage them to do some of their shopping especially for the foodbank.

Last year, more than three tonnes of items were donated that way, enough to keep the foodbank going for three to four months, Grieve said.

“The support we get throughout the year is phenomenal; Shetland is a very supportive community, and we really appreciate every help that we get. We simply couldn’t do that work without the support,” he said.

Shetland Foodbank is at 20a St Magnus Street, Lerwick, telephone 01595 741263. The foodbank is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.


This article is part of a collaborative effort by the The Scottish Beacon – a collaborative of 22 independent, community-based publications based all over Scotland.
By working together, we hope to amplify the stories from Scotland’s communities, as well as highlighting shared issues and potential solutions.
To see the other articles from our partners visit www.scottishbeacon.com

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