A network of food collection and distribution points is gearing up for a new wave of activity, as the island economy tightens still further under new restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Eilean Siar Foodbank yesterday (Wednesday 23 September) offered thanks to all those finding ways to donate foodstuffs, especially through the network of fire stations across the Western Isles.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s watch commander Campbell Macrae is today (Thursday) delivering to Stornoway the latest from Tarbert fire station, made by a couple from Scalpay.
He said: “Thank you to all the communities across the island for your continued kindness and support. This is making a direct positive impact during these difficult times.
“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are proud to support the Eilean Siar Foodbank project. We have established drop off facilities at Ness, Shawbost, Great Bernera, Valtos, Stornoway, South Lochs and Tarbert community fire stations.
“These drop off points are available 24/7. Just pop round and leave your donation in the specially designated box outside the stations and the fire service will deliver to the local foodbank. The need for this support remains high and your generosity goes a long way.”
The Eilean Siar Foodbank is just one of the services providing support to vulnerable families and individuals, at risk of going hungry because of changes to their financial situation.
During lockdown an extended network of volunteer-run community food-points have sprung up, with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar this week (Tuesday 22 September) publishing a guide to some of them.
Anne Etta Macleod, one of the organising group for the Kinloch food and baby bank, said: “We have done our best to make sure that everybody knows that help is available, by distributing a leaflet to homes and getting the word out to home carers and through the Comhairle.”
The Kinloch foodbank is sited within the Free Church hall, while other districts have made different arrangements for food distribution. At Barvas the food bank has recently moved into a container beside Clan Macquarrie Hall, where volunteers pick and pack parcels for delivery and the Harris Food Bank has also opted for doorstep delivery.
In Back, the community council and Ionad Loch a’ Tuath secured funding in May for community larders, using yellow salt bin boxes to place food and toiletries for anyone who may need them.
And Point and Sandwick Trust have put in place a food delivery service, which includes fresh meals cooked by The Chief Cook and delivered by volunteers, as well as a delivery service for supplies including food bank parcels.
Anne Etta Macleod of Kinloch food bank said: “We are anticipating that as we go into the winter, as the furlough scheme comes to an end and as businesses begin to close down, we’ll see much more uptake for the food service for the rest of this year.
“We know that some people find using a food bank hard and we assure everyone of complete confidentiality, but it’s likely that this winter there will be people who need this kind of help who would never have considered using it before.”
A statement from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said: “Comhairle nan Eilean Siar would like to thank all foodbank volunteers across the Western Isles for their dedication and hard work.
“It is vital that anyone who requires the use of a food bank is aware of the services available and can find relevant contact details for these services.”
Pictures show the foodbank at Kinloch (Paul Murray) and a recent donation at Tarbert fire station’s food collection point (SFRS)