Supporting people in need
A food bank is a place where people experiencing poverty, hardship and hunger can collect free food and find a welcoming and supportive friend to listen and offer advice. Poverty and hunger has come to scar ordinary people within our society, right here in the Highlands of Scotland. Hunger is a very real crisis.
Blythswood Care, in partnership with the Trussell Trust, has been running foodbanks since 2005. We’ve fed over 70,000 people during this time.
Blythswood’s premises on Glebe Street, Inverness, enabled Highland Foodbank to bring its operation under one roof with space to receive, sort and store donated food. The foodbank has its own entrance and meeting room, separate from the adjoining charity shop, ensuring the privacy of clients. In addition, we have a network of foodbanks throughout the Highlands at other locations.
Hunger is a very real crisis
Edinburgh Foodbank’s Story
A mother with four children was referred to Blythswood’s southeast Edinburgh Foodbank in January by the Health Visitors Team. The eldest child was nine years old and the youngest just two months.
“The health visitor advised us that they have been placed in temporary accommodation and that they have no access to public funds,” says Rosie Fraser, the Foodbank volunteer who arranged delivery of a food parcel to the family.
The Foodbank follows the Trussell Trust policy which is to help people in need at the immediate point of crisis, not on an ongoing basis.
Exceptions can only be made in close cooperation with the referring agency.
“The Health Visitor has asked that we do this weekly until their situation improves,” Rosie says. “At least they are in a flat which has a kitchen and crockery.
“Before Christmas we were asked to help a family from Romania. They had been placed in a budget hotel room with no cooking facilities, no crockery and utensils and no fridge. For them we put together what we call a kettle pack, with Cuppa Soup, Pot Noodle, biscuits, tea, coffee, tins of cold meat and crisps – basically any foodstuffs which don’t require cooking. We also gave them cereal and bought cutlery and bowls so that they could eat it.”
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For low-income families in rural areas, a car can be a necessity rather than a luxury. And as every motorist knows it can be financial drain.
Susie volunteers at one of our foodbanks. She comes in 1 or 2 days a week, after dropping her children at school. Susie helps sort food that’s been donated and makes up emergency food parcels. Susie has recently moved to the area and she wanted to volunteer, to help others and to meet new people. But Susie has also shared with us how things had dramatically changed in her circumstances and instead of helping in the foodbank, she was being helped by the foodbank.
Susi’s car had broken down and she got a large unexpected bill. Living in the country, the family relied on the car. Susie made the difficult decision to skip food so she could afford to get the car fixed. Susie and her young children were seen as a family in crisis, they were given a foodbank voucher as Susie couldn’t afford to buy food.
“The crisis facing Susi is not that unusual,” explains Lorna Dempster who manages all our Highland Foodbank outlets. “Her monthly income is very low and she is also in receipt of benefits. For families like hers, one unexpected bill is all it takes to leave the cupboard bare. Thanks to everyone who supports Highland Foodbank, Susi and her family did not go hungry.”
Harry’s dad struggles with mental health issues.
His mum works and does her best to provide for the family. But the family struggle to get by on a very low income.
The flat where he lives with his Mum and Dad has no heating. There’s no food in the cupboards.
When Harry’s Dad came to our Foodbank, he was uneasy. But when he sat down with a cup of coffee, he felt listened to - not judged. Things changed.
Harry’s dad left our foodbank with food for three days. We gave him toys so Harry has something to play with. Harry’s dad said, “I’m blown away that everyone here is so nice, and the food you’ve given me is such a help. I can’t thank you enough.”
Blythswood Care’s foodbanks help children and families like Harry’s. When someone turns to us for help, we can give emergency food, a listening ear and put them in touch with other support organisations.
When Kenneth visited a Highland Foodbank Centre, it was the friend who accompanied him who did most of the talking.
“Kenneth looked really down but his friend knew exactly what he was going through as he had found himself in the same situation two years ago,” says foodbank coordinator Lorna Dempster.
“Both men had served in the military, and had witnessed some horrific incidents. They retired from the forces only to experience marriage breakdown, homes being repossessed and depression.
“Kenneth’s friend has had time to deal with some of the issues and is a stronger person as a result. Over a cup of tea he encouraged Kenneth to open up about the difficulties he is facing both financially and emotionally. Poppy Scotland have been fantastic in supporting both men, and it was they who referred Kenneth to Foodbank. He was grateful for the food we gave him, saying it was one thing less for him to worry about.”
Your support for Blythswood’s foodbanks eases the plight of individuals and families in crisis.
Showcasing some of the work we do
Shoe Box Appeal
Receiving the gift of a small box packed with presents brings such joy; we thank you for the 88,816 shoeboxes you so generously donated in 2022.
With many of the recipients living in dire poverty, this gift, not only brings a smile, but hugely impacts on their lives.
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