Perth foodbank group considering new base amid money worries

© Phil Hannah
Michael Archibald at the Perth Foodbank.

A lifeline foodbank service could be forced to move out of Perth city centre amid mounting money problems.

Council chiefs have agreed to help the busy charity after a plea for extra funding.

Volunteers at the Cutlog Vennel service met with local authority officers to ask for a contribution towards their hefty £14,000-a-year rent. They warned that without assistance, the foodbank could have to fold.

Chairman Rev Michael Archibald was originally told there was no money available.

Now senior council officials, including leader Ian Campbell, have pledged to help following a subsequent meeting with Mr Archibald and his team.

Mr Campbell said the council would help look for cheaper, alternative premises. Sites in residential areas of the city are being considered.

However, other funding options are being investigated which may allow the service to stay in the city centre.

Mr Campbell said: “It was a really valuable meeting where the foodbank team were able to advise us of the main issues they face going forward and where we could possibly assist, in many different ways.”

“It was good to get their take on the difficult issues facing them and how we could possibly help.

“We have been trying to find new premises for them and that will continue, but from our discussions there are possibly further avenues we can explore.”

Foodbank secretary Marjory Clark said: “It was a really positive, productive meeting. We are working together to secure the stability of the service.

“Moving to new premises is an option, but the council is also helping us identify other funding sources we can apply to.”

Housing and communities convener Peter Barrett, who also attended the talks, added: “It was a positive meeting. We want to work with the foodbank who provide vital support in our communities.

“There is now a clear channel of communication and we will be meeting again in the new year.”

Local SNP MP Pete Wishart, who was approached by the foodbank team, welcomed the council’s intervention.

“Given that my office refers people to the foodbank in Perth, I know all too well the important job that they do locally,” he said.

“I know that many of the people I have assisted in the last year have used the foodbank to allow them to prioritise being able to heat their home.

“I was really worried when Revered Michael Archibald contacted me to say that they might have to close if they couldn’t find a solution to their funding issues. I am pleased to hear that Perth and Kinross Council have agreed to meet to discuss what help may be available.

“If the foodbank closed, other frontline services, including those provided by the council, would suffer. It really is within their interest to come to some arrangement.

“I will be following this story closely in 2018 to make sure that whatever assistance is offered is really of help to this important local charity.”