Website sees people connect to help each other in Bo’ness and Blackness

A website to connect neighbours in Bo’ness and Blackness so they can help each other during the pandemic has been set up.

By Fiona Dobie
Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 7:52 am
Cathie Smyth and volunteer, Margaret MacDonald making a food delivery. Pic: Michael Gillen

The Bo’ness and Blackness Community Response initiative was established by five local women – Jessica Workman, Gilly MacWhirter, Elaine Frank, Sarah Robertson and Cathie Smyth – in a bid to help people within their community to help each other.

However the majority of the work is done by others who have volunteered their time.

Cathie explained the initiative started after Gilly and Jess independently came up with the idea of a community initiative. They met at a Churches Together meeting, got talking and things moved on from there.

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Cathie said: “Jess is involved with Riverview Church so was attending the meeting and Gilly went along looking for advice on how to set something up. “They were coming from very different backgrounds, but they both wanted to do the same thing.

“The five of us had our initial meeting in Costa Coffee just before we weren’t allowed to do that anymore.

“We were trying to co-ordinate support in the community. It’s neighbours helping neighbours.

“We’re not providing the support, but through our website and Facebook we’re trying to network people together so they can provide support for each other.”

An initial call for volunteers to offer their support to others locally received a good response. And anyone who is needing help is urged to contact them online.

“We’ll do a postcode match to put them in touch with people who are local to them who are willing to help where they can,” Cathie explained.

“But then we leave it to the neighbours to help each other.

“Someone might need a prescription collected or shopping done. Someone else might have an elderly relative that wants a phone call for a chat. It really depends what each person needs.”

Although network coordination was the original plan, they have since gone on to provide further support in the shape of Bo’ness Community Pantry offering free food parcels to those struggling financially.

Cathie said: “People can refer themselves or be referred through our website to receive a food parcel of the essentials.

“To be eligible for food from the pantry you have to live in Bo’ness or Blackness and have been financially impacted by Covid-19, struggling to buy your weekly groceries.

“It’s a situation many people will find themselves in and we’re trying to reach people that wouldn’t normally approach a food bank.

“People that might be embarrassed of finding themselves in this situation.”

So what’s next for Bo’ness and Blackness Community Response as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to be felt across the district?

“We’ll continue to put people in touch with their neighbours,” Cathie adds.

“And we’ll continue to spread the word so that everyone that needs help can access help.

“We’re trying to promote the community pantry to those in need too.

“We want to get the food we have to those who need it most.

“Local people and businesses have been very generous with their donations and we’d like to thank them.”

Anyone looking to find out more about Bo’ness and Blackness Community Response – including how they can volunteer; ask for help or apply for a free food parcel from the community pantry – should visit