Charity marks 25th anniversary

Food train delivery

Food Train has been providing vital support to older people in Scotland, and has increased its work in light of Covid-19

29th June 2020 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A Scottish charity which has been at the frontline of supporting communities through coronavirus is marking a milestone anniversary.

Food Train, the Scottish charity which supports thousands of older people to live healthy, independent lives, has revealed the remarkable impact of its work - 25 years to the day (Monday 29 June) since its first lifeline shopping deliveries were made.

Just five customers had groceries delivered to their homes in Dumfries when Food Train’s first van took to the road on 29 June, 1995 following a fundraising campaign by a small group of determined community campaigners and volunteers from the town, themselves older people.

In the quarter of a century which has followed, the charity’s work for the over-65s has been expanded across eight other regions, now supporting over 3,000 members - many of them disabled or suffering from health problems - to eat well, enjoy more social contact and live at home for longer.

It has met unprecedented demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, responding to a 63% rise in people needing groceries collected and delivered to their homes.

Since its first delivery day, Food Train has made more than 445,000 home shopping deliveries and shopped for £14.2 million-worth of groceries for customers. The charity has clocked in excess of 1.3 million hours of volunteering time and completed 12,600 household tasks through the At Home service. Since the Covid-19 lockdown was introduced, the charity has ade 6,200 check-in calls to older people during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The charity is currently supporting 3,100 people with grocery deliveries across Scotland - up from to 1,905 prior to the coronavirus pandemic. It is supported by 1,300 volunteers, an increase from about 800 since the beginning of March.

Food Train chief executive Michelle Carruthers said: “If older people aren’t eating well, they’re not living well. If they’re not living well, then their health deteriorates. It’s that simple. By getting groceries to them, we help them to eat better, live better and improve the general health of the areas in which we operate.

“The certainty of knowing someone you trust is going to bring your food every week has a positive impact on people’s lives. But Food Train is about more than just shopping, it’s about social contact. We’re here to talk to those we support, to make sure they are cared for and help in any way that we can. The simple things we do make a big difference.”

The nine regions in which Food Train operates are: Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, Stirling, Clackmannanshire and West Lothian. It has a 48-strong fleet of vehicles on the roads.

Its shopping and delivery service is award-winning and sees teams of volunteers take members’ individual shopping lists and collect their items before delivering to their homes and storing them away if needed.

Nancy Houston, 96, of Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway, is among Food Train’s members, having used its shopping services to have her weekly groceries delivered for the past six years.

She said: “The volunteers are wonderful. They are so willing to help. It’s all the little things they do that make a big difference, like putting the things in the freezer. They know just how I like it. They’re a wonderful bunch of people.”

The need for Food Train’s services has grown over the past 25 years as the older population has grown and more people are cared for in their own homes - with demand never greater than that seen since March.

Carruthers added: “The enormous need triggered by Covid-19 has highlighted the problems many suffer every day because they are alone in their homes and in getting their shopping. This must not be forgotten as we move through the crisis.

“I’m pleased that Food Train has been here to help. The older people who founded Food Train created a wonderful legacy of kindness and support. Everybody associated with the charity should be very proud of what it has achieved.”

As well as its shopping service, Food Train operates its At Home service - carrying out small jobs in older peoples’ homes - and its acclaimed befriending project to tackle loneliness as well as Meal Makers and Eat Well Age Well projects to deal with the causes of malnutrition in the over-65s, along with a library service. Earlier this month it launched Food Train Connects, a one-to-one national operation to reach areas that its established shopping service currently does not.

To find out about how Food Train could help you or someone you know, email shopping@thefoodtrain.co.uk or call 0800 3047924. To register as a volunteer go to the Food Train website.