At the start of the Parliament’s recess I met with representatives of the Food Train, a charity providing support to older people to allow them to live independently at home.
The charity, which was established in Dumfries and Galloway in 1995, has developed a partnership of local shops and volunteers to deliver groceries to older people.
The service is simple to use. Customers simply fill in a blank shopping list which is picked up and delivered to a local store by Food Train volunteers. The shop then makes up the order which is collected by the volunteer, delivered to the customer and put away if required.
The initiative has now expanded into other parts of Scotland as the organisation makes the transition from regional to national status and additional services including a household/handyman service and befriending groups have been added. The organisation would welcome contact from any local authorities interested in their work.
Following the charity’s AGM, I spoke with Chief Executive Michelle McCrindle. She told me about how the organisation has grown over the years and why the past 12 months had been the busiest yet.
In 2011 over half a million pounds worth of groceries have been purchased by Food Train members, delivered by around 300 volunteers. In addition, the handyman service has made over 1,000 visits to homes and the befriending service has provided members with company to tackle isolation and loneliness.
The initiative is a great example of how communities can come together to provide a service which adds real value to the lives of people who otherwise might be at risk of isolation. I will continue to monitor the charity’s progress and look forward to seeing it expand across South Scotland and beyond.