SEECAT | Justice and Peace | Briefings | Foodbank

South East Edinburgh Food Bank—Blythswood Care Southhouse/Burdiehouse

This is the text of a talk by Beth Ferrier, 22 February 2017 to SEECAT See Reflect Act Together meeting.

I have helped at the South East Edinburgh food bank for over four years now. It is part of the Trussell Trust UK wide network of food banks, that provides emergency food for local people in crisis.

Clients require a voucher before we can make out a parcel for them. They are able to access a parcel three times in six months.

The vouchers can be obtain from a variety of sources for instance social work, doctors, head teachers, churches, prison services, lifeline & similar bodies.

Food banks operate mainly on the goodwill & generosity of donations, of non perishable food, from the general public & various sources such as local churches, of all denominations and other organisations like Lloyds bank.

Tesco supermarket have been fantastic allowing us to have regular food drops, where we hand out leaflets at the shop door with a selection of items that we are short of. Some people will say I’m not giving food for Tesco to make a profit, but that is not the case, because the food donated is weighed and Tesco give 30% of the total donated, in vouchers to use when we run out of certain items. There again you get people with a trolley load to donate saying they had need of a food bank in the past & wish to repay the help they received then.

It is physically quite hard work as all food is weighed in and out. Use by dates checked as out of date food is not allowed and must be disposed off. All produce must then be stored in rotation.

It is also often emotionally harrowing when people arrive having not eaten for days. Everyone is offered tea, coffee, rolls or biscuits while waiting for their parcels being made up. This also gives an opportunity for a chat. We listen and can often refer them to places for further support. Like CAP… Christians Against Poverty.

A strict tally is kept on all the food. Last year 2016 we distributed 14,139 Kg of food. The largest percentage went to the Liberton/Gilmerton ward feeding 693 adults & 391 children. In total we fed 1,337 people.

Another interesting fact that I noted in the last year statistics was that only 11 adults appeared in the over 65 age group. Are they JAMS or are they too proud to ask for help? We also distributed extra supplies to other non Trussell Trust food banks & other outreach organisations such as Bethany Christian Trust.

The nature of the crises that bring people to the food bank are very varied, but the greatest percentage are due to benefit delays, low income & benefit changes. They are sometimes sanctioned for being late to sign in or not attending an interview for a job that has already been taken. I have know people sanctioned for six months with no income whatsoever. It really is quite heart breaking. One young lady came who had just accepted a job which was not due to start for four weeks. She was sanctioned & benefits stopped because she missed a subsequent interview. How was she supposed to live with no money?

Others tell us they have no cooker or micro wave - only a kettle, if that. Not a lot of options for a decent food parcel. Again they may have cooking facilities but no money for electricity. We are not allowed to give out any money for obvious reasons.

The size of the parcel depends on whether it is for a single person or say a family with six children. There are four different coloured forms to work from. Occasionally we can give out toiletries, like soap, shampoo, toothpaste & also some cleaning materials.

My friend who suffered hardship a long time ago, wakes up in the morning & thanks God that she has a toilet roll. I am so happy that we now have toilet rolls to give out. Who would like to live without a toilet roll??

If you would like to help, then the contact details are:

General enquires Tel 07521 097670 email edinburghfoodbank@blythswood.org