Brechin Community Pantry launched amid concerns over scale of poverty

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Brechin Community Pantry volunteers and Brechin Co-op staff during a recent food collection

A group of Brechin residents have launched a new food initiative after becoming concerned about the scale of poverty in the area.

Brechin Community Pantry aims to provide emergency food supplies and support individuals and families to promote self-sufficiency.

The project first began two years ago when the group began delivering food door-to-door to those in poverty, helped by the Brechin Baptist Fellowship who provided storage.

With further help from local councillors and Angus Council, the group was able to establish a permanent base in the town’s Swan Street.

Founding member, Fergus Gillies said: “The idea for the pantry sprang from a chat in the pub with some friends.

“We were decrying the poverty in our community and felt that we had to do something about it. We set up a group to discuss what we, as a community, could do to support those in greatest need.

“We also wanted to help them become self-sufficient.  Our focus from the very beginning has been on the community supporting the community. ”

The group has applied for money through the Aviva Community Fund, which provides grants for local community causes.

It is hoped this will enable the charity to provide other services such as debt counselling and tutorials teaching basic life-skills such as cooking, using computers, budgeting and help with interviews.

A launch night was held to mark the official opening of the charity, attended by Mairi Gougeon MSP for Angus North and Mearns and representatives from Brechin High School, local social service agencies and pantry trustees and volunteers.

Janet Warnes, trustee and food distribution co-ordinator said: “The people of Brechin are so generous. I find it really humbling to watch people from all walks of life donate food and money and talk to us about offering their skills and volunteering their time to support us.

“We often get asked if we are a foodbank but the truth is our vision is not merely to provide short-term relief to people, but to support positive change by helping people become healthier, more independent and engaged within their community.”

Pantry treasurer and building project manager, Martin Dayman, added: “Angus Council were really supportive of the project.

“They helped us find suitable premises and to fully refurbish the building.

“It’s fantastic to not only have our own base in the heart of Brechin, but to have created a space that is warm and welcoming, where people can feel comfortable popping in for a chat.

“Within a month we will be launching a children’s clothes initiative.

“We’re also looking to set-up up a free community fridge as well as offer a host of other one-on-one tutorials.”