Highland Food Bank, part of the work of Blythswood Care, is one of a number of Food Banks across the UK franchised by The Trussell Trust.
Highland Food Bank was launched in October 2005. We work in collaboration with around 50 partner agencies (both statutory and voluntary organisations) that refer to us their clients who for various reasons are facing financial crisis and are unable to buy food for themselves. These clients are either given a voucher which they can bring to the Food Bank Centre in Inverness (open 12noon – 2pm Tuesday-Friday) to exchange for non-perishable food items, or else (if they live outwith Inverness or are facing a crisis on a day when the Centre is not open) are provided by the partner agency with an ‘Emergency Food Box’. The Food Bank Centre is in the Madras Street Mission Hall (kindly made available by the Free North Church) in what is statistically the most deprived area of Inverness.
The majority of our clients come from the Inverness area, but we provide help as required to most parts of the Highland Council Area (Currently, we provide a service in Inverness, Caithness, Sutherland, Easter Ross, Skye and Lochalsh, Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey.) Each client receives for themselves and for their family (where appropriate) a three-day supply of food together with suggested nutritious recipes to help them make best use of the food. The intention is that this three-day period should provide the client a ‘breathing space’ enabling them to find help to put their finances on a more stable basis. However, it is recognized that some clients may require further vouchers and each client is limited to a maximum of three vouchers within a given space of time.
The continuation of the work of the Highland Foodbank is totally dependent upon the generosity of the public. It is because of your help that we were able to help around 4000 people in 2011 - and 16,970 people since Foodbank began in September 2005. These clients, referred by agencies working in partnership with us, came from Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, Fort William and Ardnamurchan, Skye, Ross-shire and Caithness.
2011 saw increasing media awareness of the impact on low-income Scots of the economic downturn, and of the initiatives being launched to offer help. On 26th September 2011 the Daily Record ran a story under the headline ‘Breadline Scotland' highlighting
the plight of ‘thousands of Scots' who ‘can no longer make ends meet.'
The Record reported that new Foodbanks had opened in Edinburgh and Glasgow as franchises of the Salisbury-based Trussell Trust which is responsible for over 160 Foodbanks across the UK. Highland Foodbank was the first Trussell Trust-affiliated Foodbank to open in Scotland and the recently-established South East Edinburgh Foodbank, at Burdiehouse is, like Highland Foodbank, part of the work of Blythswood Care. It is run by the Revd John Ross, the brother of Blythswood's founder, the late Jackie Ross.
Thank you all for your support throughout the year, without which none of this would have happened!
The food is donated by members of the community via collections at supermarkets and churches. People are given a ‘shopping list ’ of non-perishable food items as they go into the supermarket and are asked if they could donate one or more from the list. The food collected is warehoused at the Blythswood Depot at Deephaven before being supplied as required to the Food Bank Centre, which is staffed by 10 volunteers on a rota basis.
The Project also receives financial donations from individuals and organisations, which are allocated as requested by the donors either to support the administrative costs of the project or to purchase additional food.
There are two salaried members of staff – the Food Bank Coordinator, Lorna Dempster and a warehouse assistant, Wendy Mackenzie. Two key elements of the project are (i) the aim to provide as nutritious meals as possible and (ii) the aim to provide in the Food Bank Centre a welcoming environment where people in crisis can not only receive food, but if they wish, discuss their problems freely in a non-judgmental context. Central to the ethos of the Food Bank Centre is the conviction that it should be a place where clients don’t simply collect food, but encounter Christian love and grace.
Over the years we have successfully raised the profile of the Highland Foodbank in the local community through newspaper and television reports and support from local politicians, and have built relationships with new partners enabling us to reach clients over a wider area of the Highlands.
The Food Bank team are consistently encouraged at the difference which their work, together with input from other partner agencies has made in the lives of clients. Often, the encouragement received by clients, and the sense that they are not on their own is as important to them as the actual food. One volunteer commented on a client’s reaction to receiving food ‘you’d think he’d just been given a million pounds instead of a just a couple of bags of shopping.’
Read testimonies from some folk who have been helped by the Food Bank over the last year here.
Want to help?
If you would like to help the Highland Food Bank by donating money or food, by organising a collection of food in your church or school, or as a care professional by referring your clients to the Food Bank Centre, then please contact us.
Download the latest Highland foodbank newsletter here