Changes ahead for local Food Bank provision

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Stornoway’s Food Bank provision in its current form, which is organised by the New Wine Church, is set to close.

The Church began operating an informal emergency food provision service more than seven years ago.

Since partnering with the Trussell Trust in 2013 and founding the Eilean Siar Foodbank, the charity has provided emergency food supplies to over 3,000 individuals, families and children across the Western Isles, thanks to the small but

dedicated volunteer base and the outstanding generosity of local people, churches and businesses.

However, running a Trussell Trust food bank involves a wide range of administrative responsibilities and the small team of trustees do not feel best placed to lead the delivery and development of the food bank service in its current capacity.

After assessing its ability to continue leading the food bank, the governing charity New Wine Church has decided to close this side of the project from Friday, November 15th.

The ongoing vision of the charity is to involve the wider church community on the island and continue working together to feed the hungry.

Catriona Stewart, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Eilean Siar Foodbank, said: “We are incredibly grateful for the support we’ve received from local people and want to say a particular thank you to all of our dedicated volunteers for their work over the past six years.

“Our highest priority is the people in crisis within our community, and our vision has always been for the foodbank to become redundant.

“To the contrary, the need for food parcels has increased significantly since we started and the support our small team are able to offer is no longer adequate.

“Now that the ethos of the food bank has been established on the island, we believe it is possible to address these needs on a more informal basis through the support of local churches and agencies across the island who already have links with the residents.”

The Trustees are in talks with New Wine Church and other local churches regarding a network of smaller, less formal community food banks that would be easier to run on a voluntary basis.

In the interim, there is still provision available for those in need at New Wine Church on Point Street and the usual agencies will be provided with a supply of emergency boxes.

Uist and Barra are now operating their own food bank facility which will remain unaffected by these changes.

The annual Tesco collection will still go ahead in November as it is a nationwide Trussell Trust event, but any food donated at the Stornoway store will be transferred off the island to other food banks on the mainland.

However, donations of food and money made directly to Eilean Siar Foodbank will be passed on to local people in need or redistributed to other appropriate local projects in due course.

Eilean Siar Foodbank would like to extend a special thanks to local businesses who have generously donated storage facilities and services over the last few years.

The likes of Grillburger, DR Macleod, Neil Mackay, Macaskills, Car Hire Hebrides, Tesco and the Co-op have provided invaluable support and it has been greatly appreciated.

Finally, the food bank would like to thank the Trussell Trust for their help and advice over the last few years.

Catriona Stewart concluded by saying: “We believe in the vision of the Trussell Trust and the importance of their voice at Government level.

“Although the administrative partnership is coming to a close, we trust that the friendship and connections made will remain open as we work together to ensure that no one goes hungry.”