The Berwickshire Churches Food Bank, which is based in Duns Parish Church, has now been operating for three years.
And the food bank recently invited a number of its key players to gather together, in order to review the work that it has been doing, and to clarify its future operations.
Central to the discussions were the questions “Why are we running the foodbank?”; “Are we achieving our goals?” and “Should we continue to do what we are doing?”
Three years ago representatives of the churches from across Berwickshire came together to set up the independent food bank.
Rather than link it together with a larger organisation such as The Trussell Trust, or the grouping of food banks in other parts of the Scottish Borders, the decision was made to develop their own model in their own way.
This involved accepting donations from churches and other organisations, and storing these ready for distribution.
Referrals for food parcels would come from a range of ‘referral agencies’ including Social Workers, Citizens Advice Bureaux, Housing Associations and other churches.
These requests would be submitted by emails, which would be picked up by the duty person, who would then prepare and deliver a week’s worth of food suited to the size and ages of the particular household.
Organiser, Minister Stephen Blakey, said this week that “the system has run well and over the past three years Duns Foodbank has responded to nearly 400 referrals.”
He added that the success of this important support service is largely dependant on two teams of volunteers, the Quartermaster Team and the Delivery Team.
These teams are run on a rota basis with members being ‘on duty’ for a week at a time.
“Some weeks life can be fairly quiet with perhaps just one or two food parcels being requested, but other weeks can be quite demanding.
“The volunteers do a magnificent job and should be congratulated for their commitment and dedication.
“The recent review meeting provided the opportunity for the various referral agencies to highlight just how much the food parcels are appreciated by those who receive them.
“No one wants to be dependant on free food, but there is no doubt that in the present economic climate we have homes in Berwickshire where people are struggling to feed themselves properly week by week, and the support of the Food Bank is invaluable.”
The donations of food come from a variety of sources. Churches in Berwickshire are the main suppliers, but the Food Bank is also supported by local schools and many other organisations.
Donations of dried and tinned food, and of cash to fund fresh items, are always very welcome and can be handed into Duns Parish Church on Friday mornings between 10.00 and 12 noon, or by arrangement.
Looking to the future, it was decided that the Berwickshire Churches Foodbank should continue to run, more or less on the same basis but with a couple of small tweaks.
It will continue to play an important part in supporting the people of Berwickshire during times of need.