MP praises Machars Basics Bank

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Dumfries and Galloway Labour MP Russell Brown has praised the team of volunteers behind the setting up of the Basics Bank in the Machars – and urged local residents to support the initiative by donating items.

Machars Churches started Basics Bank in December last year with the aim to provide an emergency food supply lasting three days to any individual, couple, or family who are in need and want help of this kind. In addition to non-perishable food items, the bags include basic toiletries, and, where appropriate, baby supplies and food.

Referrals to the bank come from a range of statutory and voluntary community organisations in the area, who use a voucher scheme to refer people. Arrangements are then made by the volunteers of the Basics Bank to supply an emergency bag which can be collected from an identified point in the community. There are currently four distribution points – Newton Stewart, Wigtown, Whithorn, and Port William.

Supplies for the emergency bags come from donations of non-perishable goods that people can be placed in blue wheelie bins in a number of venues in the Machars including shops and churches.

Russell Brown first met volunteers behind the ‘Machars Basics Bank’ initiative when they attended one of his recent Welfare Reform Summits in Stranraer and was invited to visit the bank to find out more. As a result, he spent an afternoon this week with volunteers firstly at Penningham Church in Newton Stewart, then Sainsbury Supermarket in the town, the location of one of the ‘blue wheelie bins’ used to collect donations to the bank. Russell then visited the storeroom near Wigtown, which is used to keep the food and toiletries for the emergency bags.

Russell Brown said, “I first met volunteers from the Machars Basics Bank at one my Welfare Reform Summits last month in Stranraer. I was therefore keen to find out more about their work, because it is community initiatives like this that are not only going to help people affected by the dramatic changes to the benefits system coming into effect in the months ahead but also support families hit by a sudden crisis such as the loss of a job, bereavement, injury or illness.”

“Although it has only been in place for a couple of months, the Machars Basics Bank has provided hundreds of emergency bags to local families already. This is to the huge credit of all the volunteers from churches across the Machars who deserve enormous praise for the way they have come together to help people in these tough times, but also to the hundreds of local people who have donated goods”.

“We know that demand for the bank is likely to increase in the months ahead, so I would urge local people in the Machars to support the Basics Bank by looking out for the blue wheelie bins in local supermarkets and churches and donating what they can. This can be non perishable food such as sugar, cereal and tins or basic toiletries.”

“The Machars Basics Bank is an excellent initiative and one of a number of foodbanks being set up the length and breadth of Dumfries and Galloway. There are foodbanks in Dumfries and I know that churches in Stranraer are looking at a developing a similar bank and have been in touch with the group in the Machars. I am keen to ensure that as many communities as possible have access to such initiatives because although it is a sad that we have foodbanks in 2013, the reality is in the current climate they are needed more than ever”.