Michelle McCrindle reveals why folk are getting on the Food Train

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This week the Food Train held a reception in the Scottish Parliament to introduce MSPs and others to the work of the charity and to reveal to staff and volunteers some of its plans.

In the past three years the charity has doubled in size and now serves the needs of around 1,000 members every week. A typical member is aged 85 to 95, female and lives alone. The service is provided through the efforts of a small staff and almost 500 volunteers.

Every Monday morning members are called upon at home by a volunteer, who picks up their weekly food shopping list. These lists are then taken to the retail food outlet of the member’s choice, where volunteers fill the baskets, and then deliver the goods direct to the members’ homes, in a fleet of 17 liveried vans.

Delivery is normally made direct to the kitchen, where the basket is unpacked, checked and packed away into cupboards and the fridge. While the delivery is being made, the volunteers will ask if there are odd jobs to be done around the home, such as changing lightbulbs or moving furniture, and the following Friday a further team of volunteers will go out to undertake these tasks.

This service provides practical and friendly assistance to elderly people, by performing some of those essential tasks that become more difficult in later years, enabling them to continue to live comfortably in their own homes.

An annual customer survey always reveals the highest level of satisfaction and delight.

The Food Train was founded in Dumfries 17 years ago, and now operates in Dumfries and Galloway, Stirling, Dundee and West Lothian.

At the Scottish Parliamentary reception, chairman Dr Rob Wells announced the imminent launch of the service in the south-east of Glasgow, where staff and volunteers are currently being recruited. It will cover all areas of Glasgow in the next two to three years and will open in Renfrewshire in spring 2013.

The Food Train is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award for Voluntary Service in the Community.

• Michelle McCrindle is chief executive of the Food Train.