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Coronavirus: Network of Mearns community larders delivering lifeline help

Benholm and Johnshaven community council chairwoman Mairi Eddie (right) and volunteer Kathryn Rojas, at the community larder.
Benholm and Johnshaven community council chairwoman Mairi Eddie (right) and volunteer Kathryn Rojas, at the community larder.

A network of local larders which has sprung up in the Mearns is helping hundreds of people in communities across the area.

The groups were an almost instant response to the coronavirus crisis, having been mooted as possibly community projects in the months leading up to the pandemic in villages including St Cyrus, Fettercairn, Auchenblae and Johnshaven.

There are now eight groups operating larders and delivering food and supplies across the area.

Among the success stories is the community larder which runs out of Johnshaven village hall on Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings.

It was initially set up with help from the Fareshare initiative and Aberdeenshire Council, but has quickly boomed thanks to additional grant help from Scottish and Southern Electricity Network’s Resilient Communities Fund and Foundation Scotland’s Community Response, Recovery and Resilience Fund.

Benholm and Johnshaven community council chairwoman, Mairi Eddie said: “A few groups had started talking about the Fareshare idea and these groups just sprung up very quickly – we were open in the first week of lockdown.

“Our aim in setting up the larder was to make sure everyone in our area knew that help was there if they needed it and this funding means we can continue to provide that support, which is wonderful.

“It became very obvious with the challenges our communities face travel-wise at the best of times that this was going to get much worse for many.

“Local people have been fantastically generous and the grants have meant that we are able to buy in some fresh food supplies such as vegetables.”

She said the local group also enjoyed a strong early volunteer response and a team of people is  available to help residents with tasks like prescription collection, dog walking and delivering shopping.

Mairi said: “We’d like to encourage anyone in need to come along to the larder or to contact us at bjcommunitycouncil@gmail.com so we can arrange a delivery for them.

“The real success story is that the community councils and volunteers all over the Mearns have developed these larders.”

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