MOIRA Kerr works six days a week at Dunterlie Resource Centre as facility officer. On the seventh day, she volunteers to help with Dunterlie Foodshare.

And, after 27 years working at the heart of the community, she says it is finally feeling like the busy centre it should.

“I walk around counting,” she said, describing the conveyor belt process of packing bags every Friday after 10am. “The centre has never been this good.”

By 11.30am, the doors open and residents flood in, take a ticket and the 40 bags of goods get distributed one by one.

Since its launch last May, the foodshare has handed out more than 800 bags of food, each with enough to prepare at least two meals for the week.

“I stay in this community and it’s helping people,” said Moira, 47.

Barrhead News: L-R Rena McGuire, Suzanne Peacock.Mary Leonard, Kaitlin Woodhouse and Jolene WoodhouseL-R Rena McGuire, Suzanne Peacock.Mary Leonard, Kaitlin Woodhouse and Jolene Woodhouse

Rena McGuire BEM, head volunteer and a founder of the foodshare, added: “It feels great here on a Friday morning.

“The amazing thing is the number of agencies that want to come in and the people from the area who want to volunteer.”

A number of agencies, such as Work EastRen, Citizens Advice Bureau, Home Energy Scotland and the fire service, have started joining the weekly gatherings of residents.

Dunterlie Foodshare also hopes to benefit from supplies stockpiled for a no-deal Brexit that are now in the process of being distributed.

But the success has also been a steep learning curve for everyone involved, particularly when it comes to costs.

The group initially paid £1,150 for eight tonnes of surplus food through the FareShare charity, divided over 52 weeks.

In May, that cost will rise to at least £1,800 for six tonnes.

And that doesn’t take account of the £42-per-week letting costs for the resource centre, the free labour provided by community payback workers collecting food, and other costs they didn’t plan for, such as gloves for packing and bags for distribution.

Barrhead News: Lynne Norris is one of the volunteers helping the foodshare each weekLynne Norris is one of the volunteers helping the foodshare each week

Rena, 69, said the group could be facing costs of up to £6,000 to keep everything going.

A portion of that could come through participatory budgeting (PB), where residents vote on how a £90,000 pot of council cash should be split between various community projects.

Rena credits much of the transformation of the centre to the Corra Foundation committing a worker to Dunterlie. Then, a six-week pilot foodshare through Crookston Community Group showed there was a need.

The levels of deprivation in Dunterlie have never gone away, she said, but the problem the area had was no services were going in. That has changed with Corra and now the foodshare acts as a magnet for other agencies and charities that are keen to get involved.

“Corra has made a massive difference,” said Rena.

Laura Mathieson, community co-ordinator with Corra in Dunterlie, added: “The committed volunteers at Dunterlie Foodshare contribute a great deal of time and energy every week, not only when the doors are open on Friday mornings but behind the scenes too.

“Corra are pleased to be one of many partners getting alongside folk in Dunterlie to support this fantastic community effort.

“It is great to see local people and services working well together to create a space where people can grab a cuppa, get support and feel part of their community.”

Barrhead News: Community chef Mary Leonard is on hand with meal ideasCommunity chef Mary Leonard is on hand with meal ideas

Friday was chosen for the foodshare because it can be the most difficult day for some families as they find their budget being squeezed.

Universal Credit and food price rises are adding demand for the service, with some families from well outside Barrhead going along.

However, the foodshare team tries to refer them elsewhere, catering only to those living in the G78 area.

Rena, meanwhile, is happy to show a pile of thank-you cards the team has received since the foodshare was started last May.

“Very impressed with the service,” reads one.

“I’m very grateful for all you do,” adds another.

There is also a card from one service user that details how the biggest benefit is “meeting people and having a blether over tea.”

Such comments are welcomed, as tackling social isolation is a key aim of the project.

Rena said: “People are grateful. We shouldn’t have foodbanks or foodshares but, unfortunately, people need that help.”

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