Official opening for new foodbank

Lerwick’s new foodbank was officially opened today, heralding a new chapter in the development of the service.

Premises at 20A St Magnus Street allow all the food donated to be kept in one room, while a skills centre operated through the New Life Church offers people the chance to learn practical skills as well.

The new premises come as the service settles in to its new arrangement with the Trussel Trust – a nationwide social franchise which offers support to over 400 foodbanks across the UK.

Angela Nunn, the Salvation Army’s former commanding officer who operates the foodbank along with fellow volunteer David Grieve, said demand for the food ministry scheme was continuing to grow.

The foodbank scheme had dispatched 236 parcels this year by the end of July – roughly a month’s worth up from the same period in 2015.

Mrs Nunn said the new premises were more convenient for many of the service users, lying closer to the bus station and the benefits office.

“Because what we do here is just a foodbank we now have a narrower remit so we do focus on what we are doing, concerning ourselves with food poverty and raising awareness about social justice.”

She said food ministry was not a new thing, and that the day marked a new chapter in a “very long book”.
She added the food service, previously run by the Salvation Army, had always existed.

“But it has grown beyond what we imagined in the last few years. There have been a number of reasons for that.”

She said wages and benefits had failed to keep pace with rising living costs since the credit crunch of 2008.

Benefit freezes and zero hour contracts had only added to the difficulties many people experience, Mrs Nunn added.

That allowed the food ministry scheme to help people experiencing a short-term crisis.

She said Shetland should be “rightly proud” about the generosity and kindness of her people.

“Everything we give out has been donated by the local community.”

Mrs Nunn said working for the service had highlighted the real need that existed in the community.

“We’ve seen people come in crying tears of shame, unable to look at us – unable to speak to us – because they feel so bad. But we see them leave with a smile on their face.”

She said she would have preferred to live in a world where the food ministry scheme was not required.

“The fact this service is still needed makes me very cross. I would love not to be doing this job. I know that would be my goal. Poverty is a choice that society makes.

“We need to campaign for a different kind of society.”

Mr Grieve said his “eyes were opened” by the demand for goods provided by the foodbank.

The Trussel Trust’s Ewan Gurr said lives had been transformed by foodbanks.

He said it was wrong to feel ashamed about foodbanks.

“The thing we should be ashamed about is food poverty,” he said. “But we should never be ashamed of foodbanks.

He highlighted the gap between rich and poor, and said figures had shown the second highest concentration of millionaires lay in Whalsay.

“Yet there are people living in Whalsay who use the foodbank,” he said.

“Shetland is a place you would never assume food poverty exists. Yet there are people right across the country experiencing difficulty, through no fault of their own.”

Jamie Tonge is the minister at New Life Church. He read from the New Testament a parable relating to the feeding of the poor.

“New Life Church has a part to play in the skills centre we are now standing in as well as the foodbank.
“We want to see the church be able to reach in to the community. For us those are really important issues.

“Over the centuries the church, very much, has been at the cutting edge, the forefront, of social concern.

“We live in a land where we have so much. But we are living in days now where we don’t have loads and loads of money. But, what we do have, is people. And you would be surprised how many people really care about what’s happening.”

• Picture shows Trussel Trust representatives Jim Robertson (left) and Ewan Gurr are joined by foodbank volunteers Angela Nunn and David Grieve.


Add Your Comment
  • Robert Wood

    • August 24th, 2016 3:43

    How sad that there needs to be a food bank in Shetland i never thought I would see the day

  • ian tinkler

    • August 24th, 2016 10:18

    Very sad. we have a food bank, however, we will alway have vulnerable people, who for one reason or another are unable to look after their own needs without help. Sadly benefit payments, however generous, are sometimes squandered and often not targeted where most needed. We have a strange paradox here, over-eating, (obesity) kills far more, in Scotland than starvation and undernourishement ever does. Over indulgence in food, alcohol and tobacacco kills hundreds and thousands of Scots every year. Starvation appears limited to state institutions, NHS geriatric care being the principle offender. Official figures show no starvation amoung the general public in Scotland, outside hospitals.

    • John N Hunter

      • August 24th, 2016 16:30

      Starvation is not limited to state institutions. A couple of years ago there were several reports of people starving to death because they had been sanctioned and their benefits withdrawn. A quick google doesn’t come up with any recent cases so maybe food banks are keeping the issue at bay.

    • Ray Purchase

      • August 26th, 2016 16:17

      Ali and Jane. I googled it fully expecting it to be in the distant past. Instead I found malnutrition was a direct cause of, or a contributing factor in, the deaths of 391 people in the UK in 2015. That’s truly shocking I’m sure you agree. The annual number of deaths in the UK from malnutrition has also been steadily rising over the last 10 years. If it wasn’t for good, kind, generous people such as those volunteers at the Shetland Food Bank you have to presume that many more would have perished.

      Here’s a link to a story from the Daily Mirror – there’s plenty more on the internet if you want to delve further.

      • ian tinkler

        • August 27th, 2016 10:53

        Ray Purchase, those 400 deaths a year are very sad, but how many are linked to other health problems, specifically anorexia, dementia or other organic or mental disease . The quoted figures are meaningless without that data.
        However, to put this into perspective, Obesity has been blamed for about 30,000 deaths a year in the UK.

      • Ali Inkster

        • August 27th, 2016 11:46

        There are medical differences between malnutrition and starvation Ray, you can stuff your face daily and still die from malnutrition. A few years back there was a fellow medevaced of a rig suffering from malnutrition and the food out there was free. He was well paid, he just did not know how to cook for himself when he was ashore.

  • paul barlow

    • August 24th, 2016 17:07

    not true ian. starvation is current in scotland and even up here. more obvious in the older section of the population. house bound folks are quite vulnerable to poor nutrition.

    • ian tinkler

      • August 24th, 2016 20:42

      Funny, Paul, all those thousands of patients I have seen, not one died of starvation, nor a single death certificate in Shetland so filled in as starvation as a reason for death. Poor nutrition certainly, usually over eating being the problem or alcoholism . Could you reference your claims with medical evidence, Paul, or are your facts just political posturing?
      John N Hunter a reference please, several reports of people starving to death, two years back, what country was that in? If your facts are not make belief, the death certificates would be in the public domain. John Hunter, your comments, “they had been sanctioned and their benefits withdrawn.” I for one do not believe you, sorry!, sounds like a made up story.

  • Martin Tregonning

    • August 25th, 2016 14:16

    Whilst few (if any) people actually die of starvation itself, there is no doubt that there is a large number of people who suffer from malnutrition which in turn is a major contributor to poor general health and indirectly contributes to the death of a number of people from other conditions.

    But the argument of how many people had “starvation” listed as the cause of death on a death certificate is a distraction from the fundamental fact that there is a significant number of people in the UK (and Shetland) who do not have enough food and go hungry.

    This has many long term effects on their health, education, and social lives.

  • ian_tinkler

    • August 25th, 2016 17:05

    “But the argument of how many people had “starvation” listed as the cause of death on a death certificate is a distraction from the fundamental fact that there is a significant number of people in the UK (and Shetland) who do not have enough food and go hungry.” Martin, and so the argument goes, but there are far far more people damaging there health due to over eating and self inflicted excesses. Sadly our politicians of all colors lack the courage to ration food from the obese and redistribute to the undernourished. Civil rights of the obese towards gluttony is PC! political whingers will always rabbit on about the need for “food banks”, “boot camps” and food rationing would actually save far more lives and massively improve public health, sadly, that is not PC, it is just all a case of perspective.

  • ian tinkler

    • August 27th, 2016 10:40

    John N Hunter, have you actually read these articles or are you just being deliberately disingenuous?
    Case 1; benefits-cuts-starving-soldier-3923771. He died of diabetes. ” his death was a result diabetic ­ketoacidosis – caused by not taking his insulin.” That is not starvation, is it?
    Case 2; “had a number of complex mental health conditions, anxiety disorder and obsessional traits, undiagnosed mental health issues with Asperger syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder. ” “The coroner, Darren Salter, said it was impossible to identify the cause of death,!!
    Clearly, these were vulnerable people, but it is manifestly dishonest to claim the cause of death was starvation. John Hunter, sadly talking nonsense to further a politically motivated point devalues the work of those charitable people running food banks. If I were you I would stick to actual facts in future, not left “wing press” rhetoric. “


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