A total of 5,110 cooked meals were provided to people in need through Point and Sandwick Trust’s pandemic services, it has been revealed. Also, 3,373 emergency food parcels were provided and 1,556 grocery deliveries made, with a total of 260 households across 30 settlements benefiting from some form of help. 

In all, 41 people volunteered with the pandemic response – including 17 volunteers who delivered the seven-days-a-week meals and eight who were trained up for the telephone befriending project. The main beneficiaries were in the 71-80 and 81-90 age brackets and a total of 5,220 miles were covered by the delivery service drivers. 

These are some of the key facts revealed in a new report by Point and Sandwick Trust community consultant Alasdair Nicholson, which details the outcomes of the community wind farm organisation’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic. 

The report, entitled ‘Point and Sandwick response to Covid 19 Pandemic: A case study in Leadership and Resilience’, is set against the backdrop of ‘food insecurity’ as a humanitarian issue and explains why PST, although not normally engaged in direct service delivery as opposed to facilitating other community action, felt moved to assume a leadership role.  In doing so, PST – which runs the Beinn Ghrideag wind farm on the outskirts of Stornoway for the sole benefit of the community – met two of its key roles, which are to help people who are disadvantaged and to alleviate poverty.

Initially, the wind farm organisation responded to the pandemic with £5,000 grants to local community councils to enable them to take targeted action, initiated the local production of Personal Protective Equipment for hospitals and care homes, and provided a substantial grant of £40,000 to NHS Western Isles. 

But it then secured – with the help of Alasdair Nicholson who made the funding applications – £55,600 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise through the Supporting Communities Fund for a food and medicine delivery service to vulnerable people and £55,525 for outreach telephone support and a cooked meal service from the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund.

The report details the outcomes of these investments, as follows:

• Two delivery driver/co-ordinators employed through the Supporting Communities Fund until the end of September for Food Delivery Service. 

• One co-ordinator employed until the end of September from the Wellbeing Fund. 

• A total of 41 volunteer roles were established between the two projects with roles in community leafletting, befriending, meal deliveries and community council engagement purposes on the steering group. 

• 17 volunteers were engaged with daily food and meal deliveries.

• Zoom facilities were put in place to facilitate staff and volunteer recruitment, training and project management and co-ordination. 

  • 5,110 cooked meals were delivered to mainly elderly households. 
  • 15 mainly small local businesses benefited from the delivery service, creating more time for them to adapt their own service arrangements for rural customers. 

• Deliveries were made to 30 settlements in Point and Sandwick. 

• 1,556 shop food deliveries were made to 185 households throughout the project. 

• 3,373 additional emergency food/meal packages were delivered to households.

  • 260 vulnerable or isolated households received support.
  • 5,220 miles were incurred by the delivery service drivers.

Into the future, the telephone befriending will continue, after £5,000 was obtained through Urras Storas an Rubha to set it up as an independent project, to be known as Caraidean an Rubha agus Sanndabhaig (CARAS). Also, some additional monies have been secured from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to enable the continuation of food or fuel provision to those in need in the short term. 

A survey of the pandemic services beneficiaries was carried out in September. It revealed that 54 per cent had accessed meals, 39 per cent the shopping delivery service and seven per cent befriending. 

The survey also indicated the range of conditions experienced by project users, with the biggest overall problems being impairment, mobility difficulties, fatigue, medical issues and shopping issues.

Report author Alasdair Nicholson said: “Everybody who has been involved in the project – from the board of Point and Sandwick Trust to Donald John MacSween and all the volunteers and the steering group – they all worked together. I think that team work has been the foundation of the success of the project.

“It far surpassed what we thought was the need and the demand, way back at the beginning, and the fact that everybody was able to deliver that kind of result speaks volumes for the efforts of everybody but it also demonstrates that there was a need for this type of project at a critical time. 

“There are other communities, other projects elsewhere in Scotland, who produced meals and help for people – some one day a week; some three days a week – but I don’t think there were many who delivered the seven-day support that went out with this project consistently. 

“The other crucial thing, I think, was the availability of The Chief Cook and his efforts to help deliver the quality of what was being prepared and also the delivery boys and the volunteers who delivered the meals. The two projects – the meal deliveries plus the food deliveries – worked together and complemented each other. The whole effort more than delivered what we hoped to achieve when the project was right in the early stages."

The report can be read in full online at http://www.pointandsandwick.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Point-and-Sandwick-Response-to-Covid-19-Pandemic-1.pdf

The Proposed Right to Food (Scotland) Bill, which aims to incorporate the Human Right to food into Scots Law, has been part of the backdrop to Point and Sandwick Trust’s pandemic response, as the lockdown phase caused a significant number of people to face food insecurity.

The United Nation’s Special Rapporteur has described the Human Right to food as:The right to have regular, permanent and unrestricted access, either directly or by means of financial purchase, to quantitatively and qualitatively adequate and sufficient food corresponding to the cultural traditions of the people to which the consumer belongs, and which ensure a physical and mental, individual and collective, fulfilling and dignified life free of fear.”

A number of conclusions and recommendations are made in the report. Comments include the availability of Scottish Government funding as having been “crucial” and “helpful” in assisting communities to intervene. Highlands and Islands Enterprise was “proactive” in reaching out to communities on funding streams and the funding application processes were streamlined with fast turn-around times. Also, Point and Sandwick Community Councils were valuable project partners. 

Recommendations include that Scottish Government continue to make resources available for alleviating anxiety for access to food resources for vulnerable people and, at a local level, that Adult Social Care Services should review care packages to ensure they meet actual current need. 

 

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