Foodbank opens in East Ren

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A FOODBANK aimed at helping East Renfrewshire’s most in need has completed its first successful collection.

The East Renfrewshire Foodbank – based in Barrhead – was kick-started by pastor Ken Trench of the Spirit of Life church following his involvement in a Renfrewshire foodbank steering group.

Pastor Ken told The Extra: “I realised quickly that, while Barrhead is an ideal location, it’s not the only place in need – there are similar pockets of deprivation across East Ren, in areas like Neilston and Thornliebank.

“I called a public meeting in January and was surprised by how much enthusiasm there was for the project – not just from church people, but from the wider community.”

What began as a Christian initiative is now a part of the Trussell Trust network, joining 345 established foodbanks across the UK.

Ken explained: “The idea is that we provide three days of non-perishable food – tinned items, pasta or UHT milk.

“It can be used by anyone who finds themselves in a crisis – whether it’s benefits issues, losing a job or just finding themselves in a situation where there’s no food in the house.

“We work by referral from support agencies, and we’ll be speaking to schools, GP services and social work.

“The important point is that it’s not just for the poorest folk in society: it’s for anyone who needs a bit of help.”

ER Foodbank will officially launch in the coming months, but Saturday marked its first supermarket collection – at Morrisons in Giffnock – with just under half a ton of food donated.

Next up is a fundraising concert at Arthurlie parish church, and a performance by Christian singer Ian White.

Tickets for the May 10 event are available from the foodbank’s current office, at Voluntary Action Barrhead, on 876 9555 – donations are also welcome.

East Renfrewshire often tops affluence statistics, coming in third in last year’s Bank of Scotland quality of life survey out of 32 local authorities and topping the highest weekly average earnings at £729 per week.

According to Scotland Executive Agency registers, East Ren remained the third highest area for house prices as of December 2012.

But some of its areas remain among the most deprived in Scotland. In the 2012 Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), seven zones ranked in the top 15 per cent areas of deprivation were in East Renfrewshire — this marks a steady increase since 2006.

The most income-deprived zone in East Renfrewshire covered Dunterlie, East Arthurlie and Dovecothall, ranking in the top five per cent in Scotland.

Across the UK, more than 350,000 people turned to food banks in the last year – almost triple the number in the previous year, and Trussell Trust executive chairman Chris Mould issued a plea to the UK government this week, calling for recognition of “the real extent of food poverty”.

He added: “The sheer volume of people who are turning to foodbanks because they can’t afford food is a wake-up call to the nation that we cannot ignore the hunger on our doorstep.”

To find out more, call the number above, or visit the ER Foodbank Facebook page.