Region’s Food Train Covid-19 volunteers hailed as heroes

23rd Mar 2021

Manager thanks team for work to help older people across Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, one year on from lockdown triggering massive need for support

The courageous contribution of volunteers in the region’s response to the coronavirus crisis will not be forgotten, a charity says.

Stephen McGinty, regional manager for Food Train in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, has spoken of his pride in how his team has responded to unprecedented need in the past 12 months.

Demand for the charity’s home shopping service for older people almost doubled as the country went into lockdown and the vulnerable were ordered to shield last March.

Circumstances meant the Food Train team had to cope with that spike while also having to recruit new volunteers to meet not just the new need – but that created because many of their existing supporters also had to shield.

Stephen said: “The efforts our volunteers and staff have gone to in order to help older people in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire through the pandemic have been heroic. There’s no other way of describing it.

“I know that I, the wider Food Train family and those we support will never forget how our team has been there for them when we have never been needed more.”

At the peak of pandemic pressure, Stephen and his small staff team were working from 6am until 6pm to ensure older people were able to get the shopping they desperately needed.

And the manager, who has headed Food Train’s operations locally for the past six years, described the support they received from the community as “outstanding”.

Looking back to the situation his team faced this time last year, he added: “It was completely overwhelming in many ways. The phone didn’t stop ringing for two weeks.  We managed to bring in three support workers through some emergency Scottish Government funding in mid-April. That helped steady things for us.

“But the demand kept on rising. We went from doing 80 deliveries a week to about 150. We’re down to 120 a week now.

“People were saying that they didn’t know how they were going to get their shopping, asking how they were going to manage.”

For many, the pandemic was an eye-opener for the problems that older people face in doing their shopping and in Food Train’s work to tackle malnutrition and social isolation.

“People find it’s rewarding to support Food Train,” Stephen said. “At this time people just wanted to help. There was a feeling of helplessness. People were looking for ways to make a difference and were drawn to us because what we do is so simple, yet effective.”

Food Train chief executive Michelle Carruthers has also expressed her gratitude to all those who have supported that charity’s work.

She said: “Thank you to everyone who has come forward to help our work over the past year. The response has been remarkable.”

To find out about how Food Train could help you or someone you know, email shopping@thefoodtrain.co.uk or call free on 0800 304 7924. To register as a volunteer, go to www.thefoodtrain.co.uk

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