The new home for Eilean Siar Foodbank was declared officially open on the corner of Keith Street and Francis Street, Stornoway, yesterday (Thursday June 8) in part of the former Whalers Rest/Carlton bar building now converted into residential accommodation and a restaurant by Neil Mackay Ltd.
Guest of honour was Gavin Lawson who was described as the inspiration for the setting up of the foodbank back in 2010.
The road had to be temporarily closed to accommodate the crowd of supporters and wellwishers.
Eilean Siar Foodbank began as an initiative of the New Wine Church in Point Street during 2010, delivering basic necessities to anyone who needed help.
In 2012 they linked up with the national Trussell Trust, gaining professional advice support and training which proved invaluable as the incoming requests increased. This meant using part of the former church building in Point Street as a base where clients and agencies could walk in and receive a emergency food parcels. The layout of the building had many disadvantages. The Eilean Siar Foodbank later broke away from the Trussell Trust because they found their rules too restrictive.
During the 2020 lockdown, many of the volunteers were shielding while the requests from agencies escalated to such a level that a number of those in the community came in to pack boxes and help organise distribution from various locations around the town.
This led to the foodbank receiving notification of a grant being available to pay a part-time food bank coordinator for six months – the first ESF paid employee which changed the lives of the volunteers.
The new co-ordinator also made time to look for premises with easier access which meant dismantling and rebuilding shelving in the various temporary bases.
During lockdown other food banks sprang up across the island which was a great way to bringing communities together and doing what our island people do best – giving generously to those in need.
The majority of Eilean Siar Foodbank parcels are still distributed via other agencies and charities who identify people in need.
Finally, Eilean Siar Foodbank found its second home in Keith Street. This is a result of much hard work from Sandra MacLeod, the present paid co-ordinator, and her trusty team of volunteers along with trustees Shona MacLeod, Alastair Lockett, and Catriona Stewart along with Charlie Nicholson chairperson.
Introducing the event, Catriona said: “Heartfelt thanks goes to the whole island community for their incredible generous food and monetary donations and support for the charity, as life ‘on the breadline’ ramps up for many individuals and families, this food bank would not be here today without your help so thank you.”