8th April 2020
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Foodbank faces uphill battle in light of Covid-19 pandemic

The foodbank has faced an uphill struggle in light of Covid-19 with donations falling and all but one of the team of volunteers, including co-ordinator David Grieve, having to self-isolate.

But the service is still operating and plans to open at its usual times on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

Mr Grieve said in a statement that the last week had proved “very challenging” as the vast majority of those who give up their time for the food bank had been forced to temporarily remove themselves either due to health concerns or age.

“Maintaining our vital service to the community has only been possible because we have been offered support from a large number of people who have been willing to step in and help to keep the doors open,” he said.

“That just shows the really supportive community that we have here in Shetland.”

He added newly recruited volunteer teams were being trained in all aspects of the work – meeting clients and making up food parcels for them, while also gathering food from collection points and stacking the shelves at the St Magnus Street premises.

Mr Grieve has been working from home oordinating the efforts being made.

“Clients may not see the same friendly faces when the visit the foodbank however we aim to offer the same care and support to them.

“Steps have been taken at the foodbank itself to ensure as much social distancing as we can achieve. Clients and volunteer staff are always kept apart and only one client is allowed into our small reception area at a time.

“To reduce the number of clients who need to visit the foodbank we are arranging for some of the key support services that we work with, such as Social Work departments and the Red Cross, to hold stocks of food parcels which they can distribute for us direct to the clients.”

Shetland Foodbank volunteer manager David Grieve.

He also acknowledged support from Shetland Islands Council , which includes the use of a van and a driver to deliver the food parcels to these agencies.

Food donations coming in to our collection points had been showing “significant increases”.

But Mr Grieve said that had dropped off this week “as more people are having to stay at home”. But he said some people had decided to donate money instead of food.

“We should be able to maintain our stocks of food but foodbank volunteers now need to do the shopping.”

Mr Grieve stressed that the foodbank’s priority was to support “the most vulnerable in our community” who face a crisis due to financial pressures.

“We are not here to supply food to people who are self-isolating but can afford to buy it. There are other ways for those people to get food.”

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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