Bo’ness volunteers overwhelmed by response to food hamper scheme

041012   The yellow room at donaldsons school organised a harvest collection for the store house project at st andrews churxh, boness.
041012 The yellow room at donaldsons school organised a harvest collection for the store house project at st andrews churxh, boness.

A MUGGING victim, a family with a member going suddenly into hospital, and people who hadn’t eaten for three days due to temporary financial hardship, have all been helped by a new community food project.

Volunteers at The Store House Project are currently delivering hampers to 12 families a week but social workers have told organisers they could provide 50 names, such is the demand.

Public response to appeals for donated items has been ‘overwhelming’, organiser Mike Munro said this week.

Donations fall into three categories: food (non-perishable items such as soup, cereals, rice and pasta and tinned fruit); toiletries (like shampoo and toothpaste) plus household cleaning (soap powder, toilet rolls etc).

“People are very generous. There’s a great community spirit in Bo’ness,” said Mike.

One-off or longer-term help can be given, with referrals being made by Falkirk Council social work, Barnardo’s, and local churches.

A joint venture, The Store House Project brings together Carriden, St Andrew’s, the Apostolic, Baptist and St Catherine’s Churches, plus Bo’ness Old Kirk, and other community members.

Bo’ness Academy is also pitching in via its award-winning ‘Bon Appetit’ programme, which will re-label and transfer donated fresh foods from Caledonian Produce. Pupils will have the chance of work experience too.

There could also be a collection point at the Academy for non-perishable donations, based on the ones used by local church congregations.

Mike - a member at St Andrew’s Church - said he hoped by mid-November a Links Court Industrial Estate unit would be officially open for business after a successful bid to Falkirk Council for help.

The project has been in talks with local supermarkets about their potential involvement.

Thoughts have also been turning to how the volunteers’ deliveries could possibly prove a lifeline for the community’s vulnerable, should snow hit the town over the winter season.

Mike’s inspiration for The Store House Project - whose motto is ‘compassion in action’ - came last summer while in St Andrews where a scheme was already up and running.

“My first thought was, if there’s a need in St Andrews, there must be a need in Bo’ness,” he said.

Illustrating the range of people that have already benefitted, Mike said: “A couple of weeks ago we got an email about a guy who’d been mugged the night before, and had his benefit money stolen. He had no food or money.

“We were able to go round within an hour with a food parcel.”

In another case, the team delivered to locals who had been without food for three days due to their financial circumstances at that time.

“We now go regularly and you can just see the difference it’s making with them,” said Mike.

On donations, he said: “The response has been magnificent even from the smaller churches and congregations.

“We are just overwhelmed with what’s being provided.

“We are totally dependent on what people provide for the project to keep going each week.”

There are hopes to expand deliveries in the future to two runs a week.

Caledonian Produce HR manager Jayne Patterson, said: “We are actively involved in helping our community through sponsoring individuals and also through projects such as Bon Appetit.

“We fully support Bo’ness Academy in reaching out into the community and are committed to the ongoing support and expansion of this project.”

Stuart Murdoch, minister at Bo’ness Baptist Church, described the partnership initiative as ‘fantastic’ and said: “The saying, charity begins at home, is seen in practice here.

“I can only see benefits coming from this,” he added.

*Call Mike on 01506 510462 to donate food, cash or to volunteer.