Foodbank’s appeal for more donations

Jim Paterson, Mark Wells, Christine Jackson, Maxine Regan (trustee), Isabel Donachie, Carol Lough and Heather Anderson of the foodbank based at St Mungos Church Halls in Penicuik.
Jim Paterson, Mark Wells, Christine Jackson, Maxine Regan (trustee), Isabel Donachie, Carol Lough and Heather Anderson of the foodbank based at St Mungos Church Halls in Penicuik.

A foodbank in Penicuik is appealing for more tinned donations to cope with rising demand from local people.

The Food Facts and Friends foodbank was established in March last year and is run out of St Mungo’s Church on Kirkhill Road in Penicuik

Co-ordinator Mark Wells is one of seven volunteers at the foodbank.

He said that demand has gone up, with referrals from Midlothian Council, Women’s Aid and Children First, leading to over 20 families a week using the service.

He said:“Costco are on board. We get fresh fruit and vegetables form them.

‘‘However, it’s the tinned goods we struggle with. We have a few people occasionally come in and drop stuff off but we quickly run out.

“Demand is still on the increase because of Universal Credit. People have to wait several weeks with no money. It’s really hard for them.”

Mark explained the sobering reality of foodbanks by telling the heartbreaking story of a local couple.

He said: “We had a young couple walk in from Bilston who were ashamed to come here, but they had no food in their cupboards.

‘‘It’s really sad to see people in that position.

“They had a car but no money for petrol, so they had to walk all the way here.

‘‘We shouldn’t really need foodbanks in this country but if it wasn’t for people like us these people would be really suffering. The government doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it.

Midlothian Foodbank at Gorebridge Parish Church told the Advertiser that it too has seen an increase in demand since the benefit changes earlier this year.

Mark explained how he came to establish the foodbank in Penicuik, after previously using the service in Edinburgh himself.

He said: “I set it up because I went through benefit cuts and had to use foodbanks so I know what it is like to struggle to afford to buy food.

“I then got involved in a project in Edinburgh which I helped out at for about six years. Then Jill Kane and David Bennett from Penicuik asked me to do it there because they felt there was a need for a foodbank and drop-in centre.

“Somewhere for people to go for a cup of coffee and a blether in a safe environment where we can help with anything to do with benefits, like support for a tribunal.”

Mark added that he is always looking for volunteers. If you are interested visit the foodbanks drop-ins from 10.30am - 1.30pm on Mondays and Fridays to find our more.