MP praises resourceful volunteers at Fife foodbank

Volunteers at a foodbank established by a Fife church have been praised for their resourcefulness in supporting vulnerable people.

North East Fife MP, Stephen Gethins, said East Neuk Foodbank, based at St Ayle Church in Anstruther, was an “amazing” facility which provided access to a range of support services as well as food.

The politician recently visited the foodbank, which was established in 2013, and met with project co-ordinator, Richard Wemyss.

Moderator Designate Rev Susan Brown
Foodbank donations from pupils at Wade Academy, Anstruther.

Mr Gethins said: “This is an amazing facility.

“Thanks to the church, the foodbank can use the space twice a week not only to dispense food parcels but also to give advice and access to other services.

“I was really pleased to hear more about this from Richard who has been instrumental in developing this support network.

“Very often people in rural locations like the East Neuk can feel isolated and many cannot afford the journey into bigger towns to access advice.

“This makes the advice service offered by the foodbank even more vital.”

Moderator Designate Rev Susan Brown
North East Fife MP Stephen Gethins with East Neuk Foodbank project co-ordinator, Richard Wemyss.

Rev Arthur Christie, minister of St Ayle Church, said he was delighted that volunteers had been recognised for their hard work.

“The church is at the heart of the community, and as well as everything else, teas and coffees are provided to people free of charge three days a week.

“Volunteers are there to listen to people and pray with them if they wish.”

Moderator of the General Assembly, Right Rev Dr Derek Browning, visited the foodbank last month as part of a Presbytery of St Andrews tour.

Moderator Designate Rev Susan Brown
Dr Browning visited East Neuk Foodbank last month.

Mr Wemyss, whose part-time post has been funded by the Robertson Trust, Awards for All and Fife Poverty Action funds, explained more about the help available.

“We successfully applied to the Russell Trust for grant aid and installed a land line and purchased a couple of laptops, printers and tablets to assist with online issues,” he said.

“Things such as form filling, Job Seekers Allowance diary keeping on Universal Job match, CV writing as well as allowing access to social media and other on line activities accepted as day-to-day necessities now, which cannot be afforded by many of our clients.

“We have run cooking, food hygiene and first aid classes for our clients and general East Neuk residents to integrate the foodbank and its clients.

“We have no plans currently for further classes but we respond to need so should new clients come in that need a specific help we can look at how we can create something ourselves or direct people to existing opportunities.”

Pupil support

Mr Wemyss’s role also includes speaking to organisations, church groups and schools about the foodbank.

“We spend quite a lot of time with our clients and hopefully, as we get to know them, we can direct them to services that could potentially alleviate their situation,” he added.

“I am also in discussion with Fife Council about reinstating a travel voucher scheme, which could make a huge difference to some clients in terms of signing on, attending hospital appointment etc.”

The Foodbank has also benefited from its relationship with pupils from the local secondary school, Waid Academy, who won £3,000 for the organisation thanks to their involvement in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI).

The relationship has now been put forward as an example of good practice for the YPI scheme.