Foodbank responds to Grassy Riggs’ concerns

Friday March 15th 2019


Michelle Ballantyne, South Scotland MSP, writes her first monthly column for Midlothian View. Though in this column she is speaking in her capacity as patron of the Food, Fact and Friends Foodbank rather than as South Scotland MSP.

I was very surprised to see the article in Midlothian View suggesting that MARC was not only the wrong location for a foodbank, but that a foodbank’s presence would undermine the existence of other activities in a building. Given that many foodbanks operate from church halls and many of the volunteers are older members of the congregations the views of Grassy Riggs would seem somewhat misinformed.

Woodburn has some of the highest levels of deprivation in Midlothian, with almost 70% of households reporting some degree of deprivation. The MARC building, therefore, is perfectly placed to meet the needs of the community. And Food Facts & Friends’ core philosophy is to reduce stigma and provide support, help and social interaction at a time when people need it the most.

The MARC building is a community facility, it is extremely well-run and is used by a number of organisations, including youth groups and Grassy Riggs. The arrangements that have been made between the management of MARC and Food Facts & Friends is that the foodbank will operate when no other organisations are present in the building, so there will be no conflict with, or disruption to, any other group.

Currently, people in the Woodburn and Dalkeith area are having to travel to our facility in Penicuik for support. When you are already struggling this journey can present challenges. I hope the community will work with us because, whether you are young and on your own, a family struggling to make ends meet or an older person struggling on a small pension, all of us can find ourselves in need of help. It is, therefore, beholden on all of us not to make judgements and promote stigma.

Food Facts and Friends looks forward to providing a warm welcome to anyone who needs our support.

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