Sup­port­ers en­sure food­bank in Perth is well stocked.

CHAR­ITY: Perth ini­tia­tive thanks lo­cal peo­ple for their gen­eros­ity as it faces spike in de­mand

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - EMMA CRICH­TON ecrich­[email protected]­

“We have lots of gen­er­ous peo­ple giv­ing us both food and money and we also have lots of loyal and ded­i­cated vol­un­teers, so I’m grate­ful to them. ELEANOR KELLE­HER

A Perth food­bank is thriv­ing, thanks to the gen­eros­ity of lo­cal sup­port­ers.

The team at the Perth and Kin­ross Food­bank feared the worst ear­lier this year when a raft of ben­e­fit changes were in­tro­duced.

How­ever, while sim­i­lar groups around the coun­try have re­ported a surge in pres­sure on their ser­vices as more fam­i­lies seek help, the Perth scheme has man­aged to keep a large stock of food, even in the run-up to the busy fes­tive sea­son.

Bosses say this has been thanks to a steady sup­ply of dona­tions given by schools, or­gan­i­sa­tions and fam­i­lies.

Project co­or­di­na­tor Eleanor Kelle­her said: “Perth food­bank is very lucky.

“We have lots of gen­er­ous peo­ple giv­ing us both food and money and we also have lots of loyal and ded­i­cated vol­un­teers, so I’m so grate­ful to them.

“Some of the other food­banks in Scot­land are strug­gling, they are con­stantly run­ning out of food and vol­un­teers to help them and al­ways look­ing for money.

“Last year we had no money but we got fund­ing from the coun­cil which has been an ab­so­lute life­saver.

“We are still needed, which is the un­for­tu­nate side. I would rather we weren’t needed at all but that’s not go­ing to hap­pen any time soon.”

The Cut­log Ven­nel food­bank helps peo­ple from the city cen­tre to Blair­gowrie, where a smaller ser­vice op­er­ates.

Un­til re­cently, it also pro­vided food to cen­tres in Cri­eff and Pit­lochry, which have now gone in­de­pen­dent.

When Uni­ver­sal Credit re­placed the pre­vi­ous ben­e­fits sys­tem, it was feared there would be a high spike in food­bank use.

Na­tional food­bank provider the Trus­sell Trust has pub­lished fig­ures show­ing a 52% in­crease in de­mand in ar­eas where Uni­ver­sal Credit has been rolled out.

How­ever, Eleanor said Perth and Kin­ross was well pre­pared when it came into force in June.

“We don’t have fi­nal fig­ures yet but from what I’ve seen it has not been as hor­ren­dous as I thought it would have been,” she said.

“We have had anec­do­tal in­creases and we are see­ing peo­ple come in be­cause of UC but it hasn’t gone off the scale. I think there are safety nets in our area to catch peo­ple be­fore they re­ally hit rock bot­tom.”

As vol­un­teers pre­pare for their busiest time of year at the food­bank, Eleanor wants to fo­cus on re­duc­ing the em­bar­rass­ment peo­ple feel when us­ing the char­ity.

“I re­ally want us to get rid of the stigma but I don’t know if we will ever be able to,” she said.

A three-day col­lec­tion will be held at Tesco stores next week, from Thurs­day to Satur­day.

Pic­ture: Mhairi Ed­wards.

Perth and Kin­ross Food­bank co­or­di­na­tor Eleanor Kelle­her.

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