The Western Isles food bank which supplies families and individuals in poverty, is to change how it offers its service – but it will not close, trustees say, despite the split with the national charity Trussell Trust
New Wine Church has been operating emergency food provision for people in distress for more than seven years and, since partnering with Trussell Trust in 2013, Eilean Siar Foodbank has provided emergency food supplies to more than 3,000 individuals, families and children across the Western Isles.
An announcement was issued earlier this month, stating that Eilean Siar foodbank is to part company with the Trussell Trust from next month.
Trustees' chair Catriona Stewart told welovestornoway.com: "After November 15th the food bank will still function but won't be part of the Trussell Trust.
“The trustees came to the decision that, while the Trussell Trust has been extremely supportive, the requirements of remaining in the partnership have made the local branch top heavy with administration.
"From the 15th November we will no longer be called Eilean Siar Foodbank and our existing vouchers can no longer be used, but our premises, our service and our volunteers will still be working to support people who need help.
“The agencies who refer people to us have already been contacted and we have meetings scheduled with a number of churches in the coming weeks to discuss the possibility of a joint venture in our communities.”
Trustees are hoping that churches which already provide food and other support services for people in distress will step in to help deliver the new provision. Eilean Siar foodbank trustee Charlie Nicolson told welovestornoway.com: “The Salvation Army provide support for people who need food, and the Shed Project already runs a food distribution service called Joseph’s Larder from their premises in Stornoway.
“The Trussell Trust have been very supportive to us, but their administrative demands were making it hard for our small voluntary group to sustain the service. They sent up an officer to check our provision recently and we thought we had done well, but they came back with pointers which included that we need a major permanent base for food storage, which is something we just have not been able to secure over the years, despite everything we have tried.”
Between now and November 15th trustees are trying to manage the Trussell Trust’s exit requirements at the same time as negotiating much-needed future support for hungry people. They are also planning for the collection of food for Christmas boxes which are distributed through statutory agencies every year.
The timing of the change has left the annual food collection in Tesco in doubt. The national event is scheduled for November 21st to 23rd, but Tesco Stornoway are still considering whether to go ahead if their own staff have to manage the collection process.
Trustees chair Catriona Stewart said "We are incredibly grateful for the support we've received from local people and want to say a particular thank you to all of our dedicated volunteers for their work over the past six years.
“Now that the ethos of the food bank has been established on the island, we believe it is possible to address these needs on a more informal basis through the support of local churches and agencies across the islands.
"We believe in the vision of the Trussell Trust and the importance of their voice at Government level. Although the administrative partnership is coming to a close, we trust that the friendship and connections made will remain open as we work together to ensure that no one goes hungry."