Demand is growing at food banks

HELPING HANDS: Left to right - Joshua Dickinson, Lesley Dickinson, Melissa Dickinson, Hannah Barrie and Mary Caldwell.
HELPING HANDS: Left to right - Joshua Dickinson, Lesley Dickinson, Melissa Dickinson, Hannah Barrie and Mary Caldwell.

Food banks in general have had a lot of media attention lately, and featured in several political discussions.

But anyone who has spoken to the founders of the food banks in both Kilsyth and Cumbernauld will see that the need for these organisations is real and growing.

In Kilsyth, Lesley Dickinson heads up a small independent charity with around ten core volunteers including daughter Melissa and her friend Hannah Barrie, who are both 19.

Despite several Harvest collections boosting donations, Lesley said food was going out as fast as it was coming in.

“We are very well supported by the people of Kilsyth,” said Lesley.

“But what we have at the moment will last less than a month.

“Demand is growing all the time, whenever we open up to distribute food there’s always at least one new face.”

Lesley was also quick to dismiss any notions of a “typical food bank user”.

“You’d be surprised at the people we see in here,” she said. “We have people in high profile jobs coming to us for help, people well known in the community.”

In Cumbernauld, the local food bank is Bethlehem - House of Bread, which is housed at the Cornerstone House church in Cumbernauld Town Centre.

The church also has a food co-op, where people can purchase food cheaply. A friendship cafe also opened recently.

The food bank was founded by Norma Cowan and her husband Joe, and is aided by several churches. Since 2011 demand has grown by 1000 per cent.

Norma said: “We get fantastic support from local people, ranging from individuals to churches and schools. Scottish independence campaigners have been collecting a lot of food for us recently too.

“People come to us for help from all over Cumbernauld, even the wealthier areas such as Balloch and Craigmarloch.”

Normally people need a referral from an organisation such as NLC’s social work department to receive food packages.

Anyone who turns up at a food bank without a referral will be given guidance on how to obtain one.

Donations of long-lasting food items and other essentials such as toiletries will be gratefully accepted at Cornerstone House or at any of Kilsyth Food Bank’s dropoff points.

Cash donations are also welcomed, of course.

Kilsyth Food Bank needs at least £700 a month to cover its basic operational costs, and they also hope to obtain a new vehicle.

Every penny Bethlehem House of Bread raises is reinvested into the food bank.

Both food banks are also keen to hear from potential sponsors

For more information, see www.kilsythcommunityfoodbank.com or www.cornerstone-house.org.uk.