Midlothian residents are going hungry. The volunteers, churches and community organisations that are taking a stand have put resources available for those who cannot afford to pay for food. They have established stocks of donated items that are packaged for redistribution to the people who need it most.
Midlothian Foodbank opened in 2013 as the first local affiliate of the national Trussell Trust charity. It receives national support and guidance as it mirrors the successes seen in other parts of Scotland.
To get help, residents simply need to visit one of the partner organisations in order to gain a referral. A voucher will be issued for situations where a care provider or adviser believes that the aid would be beneficial to the wellbeing of their client.
Referring organisations include the money advisers Penicuik Citizens Advice Bureau (telephone 01968 675259) and Dalkeith and District Citizens Advice Bureau (telephone 0131 660 1636). Many doctors and healthcare workers can issue vouchers for food as can police and probation officers.
Social workers are one of the more common referrers for aid, since they are already so familiar with the situations of people who are already dealing with a difficult crisis. Anyone not in contact with a social worker may call on 0131 271 3900, where they may set an appointment to meet with a specialist as well as to receive a free voucher.
Midlothian Foodbank began operations at Gorebridge Parish Church on 96 Hunterfield Road, which is where the distribution centre is currently located. It is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays normally from 10.00am until 2.00pm. Citizens may call ahead on 07789 173 276 to verify the hours for the current week, since these could change due to holidays or other events.
An expansion has lead to a satellite location in Dalkeith. The Dalkeith Foodbank is located in the MARC Building at North Wynd. Hours of operation are initially 10.00am until 2.00pm. Enquiries to this location may be made on 07597 359 910.
Each voucher is redeemed for a parcel of donated food items that have been carefully selected. The expectation is that these parcels will meet the nutritional needs of an average sized family for three days. These are non-perishable donations that were received from supermarkets, neighbours and businesses who care about the community. Most food drives are organised by churches, though many schools and businesses have also sponsored these events on behalf of the food banks and the people that they serve.
Residents near Straiton or Loanhead may find that the nearby Edinburgh SE Foodbank is closer. Enquiries on 0131 4666247 or 07521 097670 can direct visitors to the location on days that it is open.
While these services have gained popularity throughout Scotland, this is a relatively new concept in Midlothian. Most communities have not had a dedicated food pantry since the Second World War.
This service is no longer a crutch for just poor people. Volunteers are finding that many people of moderate means are struggling to afford the increasing living costs while their wages stagnate. Even middle income families are sometimes turning to the aid in times of crisis. This is especially true if they lack the savings to get through a temporary crisis.