A Perthshire town’s bowling club has been transformed into a lifeline service for struggling families.
The clubhouse at Blairgowrie has relaunched as a community larder, offering up free food, school supplies and other essentials.
The Bowls of Help project has seen the bar kitted out with tables stacked high with items such as cereals, tins, rices, pastas, eggs and potatoes – all donated by local people and businesses.
The Lochty Terrace venue is open every weekday from 10am to 2pm, and club president Willie Donaldson said the idea is to offer help to “every single person” who needs it.
“When you walk through the door, you’ll see a big, colourful banner that says: Everyone welcome,” he said. “We want people to know that we are here for them.
“We want to target anyone in need, anyone who has been furloughed, anyone who is struggling right now,” said Willie, who decided to help out after he himself was furloughed by employers Tayside Contracts.
“The way I see it, if you are someone who has a regular wage of £1,000 and you’re on furlough, then your household has lost £200 a month,” he said. “We are here to try and make things easier for people with, for example, free groceries, toiletries and sanitary products.
“Everything has been donated by the local community. The whole community is really pulling together.
“A great example of this was when there was a real shortage of flour in every shop in Blairgowrie. A local firm Lang’s Foods were able to provide us with bags and bags of flour to keep the community going.”
Volunteers have also been busy helping parents and children with home schooling. “People are running out of jotters,” Willie said. “If they have to pay for that, on top of everything else, that could be a real unwanted expense.”
He contacted local Conservative councillor Caroline Shiers, who is also the council’s Lifelong Learning Convener. “She was able to arrange for supplies from Rattray and St Stephen’s schools,” Willie said.
Bowls of Help is part of the wider Blairgowrie Rattray Coronavirus Coordination Group, which is helping families across the area.
It is supported by Blairgowrie Rugby Club which is running a drop-off point and storage service.
Willie, who has been at the club every day for the last three-and-a-half weeks said: “Because it’s impossible to bowl while social distancing, our season couldn’t go ahead.
“But we had these premises, we had all our structures and the committee in place, so we knew we could do something to support the community.”
He said: “It’s been good and it’s been enjoyable, but it has also been long and tiring. We’re glad to be able to do something to help.”
Ms Shiers described the bowling club committee’s efforts as “absolutely amazing.”