Food, toiletries and basic household essentials are being handed out in increasing quantities to families and individuals struggling during lockdown.
Lt Callum Newton of the Salvation Army’s Stornoway Corps said that demand is growing by the week for donated goods to help keep households out of want.
Callum will open the doors to the Salvation Army hall on Bayhead at 12 noon today (Wednesday 15 April), for two hours, with a supply of food, toiletries and baby items, all available to anyone who needs them.
The twice-weekly openings, each Wednesday and Saturday since lockdown, have been well-stocked by businesses, supermarkets and individuals donating both money and supplies, but Callum said both personal callers and people requesting deliveries are on the rise.
He said: “Demand is high for what we are providing and for the first time in five years in Stornoway I have actually seen us run out of food before it was time to close our doors. On that occasion Eilean Siar Foodbank helped us out and we continue to work together to support each other.”
Food parcels are being delivered to people isolating at home by Eilean Siar Foodbank and by the Salvation Army, in addition to a series of
Scottish Government initiatives including grocery boxes for shielded individuals and vouchers for families with children eligible for free school meals.
Last week it was announced that £147,000 had been allocated to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar from the £350 million Coronavirus communities fund to help the local authority ‘meet emerging local needs and circumstances.”
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has set up the multi-agency Care for People group, with representation from NHS Western Isles, Hebridean Housing Partnership and third sector bodies including the Salvation Army. The role of the group is to be a single point of reference co-ordinating care for people affected by emergencies.
The aim is to meet people’s practical and emotional needs during and after the emergency and to attend to basic needs such as safety, security, food and shelter, whilst being mindful of people’s mental health needs.
Lt Newton said that the efforts of all the organisations offering support to people were directed towards offering what is needed in the safest and most effective way possible.
He said: “When we open our doors we have a distancing and hygiene policy in operation and we have an out-of-hours service constantly available so that we can deliver to people who are isolating and can’t come in.
“Our baby bank supplies are especially important for people with young families and expectant mothers. We make arrangements for mothers to come in by appointment to choose the baby clothes and other items they need, so that they can be in the building when nobody else is there and avoid contact with other people.
“We have had tremendous support from individuals making donations and from businesses donating goods.”
And he praised the resilience and community spirit being shown in the islands, from individual to corporate level. He said: “It’s amazing how people have looked out for their neighbours. From a Christian point of view this is what it is all about – having that love and care for each other.
“Businesses are not trying to take advantage of the situation, but they are being responsible and working hard as part of their community, and we have seen so many volunteers and community groups coming forward.
“For the Salvation Army, this is what we do and have been doing for 100 years, but when you see it like this as part of a whole community effort it proves that we are still a community, with resilience and community spirit.”
The Salvation Army hall at Bayhead is open from 12noon until 2pm each Wednesday and Saturday for collection of food, toiletries and baby items (pictured). You can contact Lt Callum Newton on 07493 880058 to arrange for delivery or visits by appointment.