Foodbanks and community organisations 'still here' for Falkirk area's vulnerable

As Scotland gets to grips with its latest lockdown and many things seem uncertain, one constant remains in Falkirk district: the goodwill of its people and charitable causes.

By Jonathon Reilly
Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 4:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 4:39 pm

With shops shut, school gates locked, cafes closed and hospital wards seeing more coronavirus patients, it’s heartening to hear of the selfless work taking place throughout the region to support society’s most vulnerable.

Even before the term ‘Covid’ entered into our vocabulary, examples of services performing good deeds for those in need were commonplace, but never taken for granted.

The number of kind acts carried out in the Falkirk area since the start of the pandemic has skyrocketed, born as much out of a desire to help as necessity.

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Keeping Larbert and Stenhousemuir Beautiful volunteers received funding through Stenhousemuir FC's Community Helpline Initiative to support its pantry operation. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Some of the most basic but vital contributions have come from foodbanks, which have been there to put meals on the table for children, furloughed or unemployed parents and those forced into self-isolation.

Those same organisations want the public to know they’re still there – and will continue to be for as long as they’re needed.

Falkirk Foodbank is one such example.

The Tamfourhill-based service has fed 6100 people – 2205 of whom are children – since April and is currently delivering seven-day food parcels to 100 different households each week.

Jim Couper, Falkirk Foodbank centre manager (far left), with some of his team of volunteers. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Its volunteers also handed out 15 tons of items at Christmas – well above its 10-ton norm for the festive season – and collected winter jackets for youngsters and household appliances for former hostel residents who moved into council accommodation.

Falkirk Foodbank, which serves up 100,000 meals annually, will carry on catering for the disadvantage and is immensely grateful for the donations it receives from the public and churches.

Keeping Larbert and Stenhousemuir Beautiful Community Pantry and Stenhousemuir FC Community Help Initiative team members have distributed food parcels to those in need throughout the pandemic. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Jim Couper, centre manager, said: “The general public of Falkirk are tremendous. We couldn’t thank them enough; we’ve never run out.

“We’ve been working closely with a lot of primary schools. Our concern is there are families getting some type of money for the children who get free meals, but families who are furloughed or have lost their jobs may not qualify.

“We’ve been delivering food parcels to primaries all over Falkirk where we know there are children at risk.

“There’s been an increase in the people we’re helping. We’re seeing more elderly people coming to us, maybe because their son or daughter do their shopping but they’re having to isolate because of track and trace.”

Kersiebank Community Project has handed out food parcels to vulnerable families, households in isolation and the elderly. Angela Bradley, treasurer, and Lorna Rothwell, committee member. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Falkirk Foodbank is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday (8.30am-5pm). Donations can be made to the service at all major supermarkets in the region.

Another of the many charities extending a helping hand out is Keeping Larbert and Stenhousemuir Beautiful (KLSB) Community Pantry.

The service quickly created links with Larbert High and St Mungo’s High from a base in the Rotary Hall in Larbert last March.

That partnership enabled volunteers to support toiling families, with dozens of households benefitting from its efforts.

John McMorran, KLSB chairman, said: “With help from Falkirk Council Community Learning and Development we managed to fully stock our pantry and we started to offer aid to over 180 households in our community.

“At the height of our community effort we helped over 180 households, supplied weekly food packs and were assisted by over 90 volunteers from our local schools, the general public and Stenhousemuir Football Club.”

The KLSB Community Food Pantry moved into new premises at 17 King Street, Stenhousemuir in late 2020. The group is offering emergency food aid and is currently supporting more than 60 households a week.

To request the pantry’s assistance, contact Support for People on 0808 100 3160.

KLSB relies heavily on food donations – visit its Facebook page or for more details.

Stenhousemuir FC’s Community Help Initiative has played a prominent part in assisting residents of Larbert, Stenhousemuir and further afield since its formation in March.

During the past ten months, its 198-strong team of volunteers have put in 25,250 hours and undertaken 3591 shopping trips to deliver 11,532 school lunches, 6004 meals and 1504 food parcels.

A total of 367 families have received its help in that time.

Jamie Swinney, Stenny chief executive, said: “A lot of those numbers keep going up. We’re still delivering to 120 households in total.

“Every week we’ve got a team of volunteers who make calls to people just to keep in touch and give them someone to speak to.

“Keeping Larbert and Stenhousemuir Beautiful have said they’ve seen an increase in demand for school meals so we might go back to delivering those too.

“We’re always happy to recruit more volunteers because you never know what’s round the corner.

“We’d encourage people, if they want to, to make a donation which will go to the future of the Community Help Initiative.

“It’s good to see local organisations have stepped up to the fore. It’s been one of the few positive legacies of this pandemic.”

The services of Kersiebank Community Project in Grangemouth have been crucial in the east of Falkirk district.

The organisation has delivered everything from prescriptions, cleaning products and parcels of food to toiletries, books and children’s games since the onset of the pandemic.

At one stage, volunteers were distributing 150 fresh food packages per week.

A Christmas appeal run by the charity helped gift toy boxes to little ones and food parcels and dinners to struggling residents.

A spokesperson said: “The community and local businesses were fabulous, donating daily.

“We would not have been able to help so many families if it had not been for our local businesses and community. We are extremely grateful for everything that has been and continues to be donated.”

The project’s drivers are still offering a weekly service to those who are isolating and “will continue to do this until the pandemic is over”.

Kersiebank Community Project is open Monday-Thursday (9am-4pm) and Friday (9am-1pm). Visit the Facebook page for more.

Falkirk Council’s Covid helplines can be contacted on: 01324 501900 (east); 01324 501840 (central); 01324 508616 (west).

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