Berwickshire food bank struggles to cope

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Berwickshire Churches food bank has seen a significant increase in referrals from agencies in the past year and is in desperate need of more volunteers to deliver its food boxes.

“In the year ended March 31, 2019, we provided 641 food parcels catering for 495 adults and 146 children,” said a spokesperson for the Duns-based food bank.

“This represents an increase of 89% over the same period last year, which tells its own story. Our referrals have increased by 102% over the last six months, 48% of which are to clients in the A1 corridor. And our delivery team has reduced to six or seven.

“We have particular trouble with what we call the A1 corridor, comprising Burnmouth, Eyemouth, St Abbs, Cockburnspath, Oldhamstocks, Grantshouse, Reston and Ayton.”

When the food bank was first set up by the Duns Presbytery it was recognised that because of the rural nature of the area many people referred to it for help were unable to get to Duns to pick up the food boxes and teams of volunteers have been making weekly deliveries across the county from Cockburnspath to Coldstream.

However, as demand increases and the number of people delivering the boxes reduces, from Monday, April 22, Berwickshire Churches Food Bank is going to have to rely on the referral agencies themselves (social services, CAB, Berwickshire Housing Association, NHS Borders etc) to pick up the food boxes from its Duns premises and deliver them to clients who live in the A1 corridor area.

The hope is that more people will come forward to join the delivery rota - they are aiming for at least 16 volunteers to have eight teams of two who would make deliveries every eight weeks.

When it is their week to deliver boxes volunteers go to the food store in Duns and make up the boxes according to the needs of the family involved - “There is no such thing as a typical parcel any more”.

Many of the volunteers will then contact the client and ask what fresh goods they need, before going to buy milk, bread etc, and they can also go and pick up a pharmacy voucher to include in the food box.

The volunteers can claim back petrol costs and the cost of buying the fresh goods, pharmacy vouchers etc.

Discussions have started about the possibility of setting up an Eyemouth-based food bank but that is currently in the early stages.

If you think you can help contact dunsfoodbank@gmail.com