Volunteers who provide a lifeline service to older people have been praised for their “heroic” efforts.

The team at Food Train have delivered vital supplies to scores of residents across Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire who have been stuck at home during the Covid pandemic.

Stephen McGinty, Food Train’s regional manager, said the work done by the charity’s volunteers over the past year will never be forgotten.

“The efforts our volunteers and staff have gone to in order to help older people in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire through the pandemic have been heroic,” he added. “There’s no other way of describing it.

“I know the wider Food Train family and those we support will never forget how our team has been there for them when we have never been needed more.”

Demand for the charity’s home shopping service for older people almost doubled as the area went into lockdown a year ago, with vulnerable residents ordered to shield.

Circumstances meant the Food Train team had to cope with that spike while also recruiting more volunteers to meet not just the new demand but that created because many of their existing supporters also had to shield.

At the peak of pandemic pressure, staff were working from 6am until 6pm to ensure older people were able to get the shopping they desperately needed.

Stephen, who has headed Food Train’s operations locally for the past six years, described the support his team has received from the community as “outstanding.”

Looking back to the situation they faced this time last year, he added: “It was completely overwhelming in many ways. The phone didn’t stop ringing for two weeks.

“We managed to bring in three support workers through some emergency Scottish Government funding but the demand kept on rising. We went from doing 80 deliveries a week to about 150. We’re down to 120 a week now.

“People were saying they didn’t know how they were going to get their shopping, asking how they were going to manage.”

For many, the pandemic was an eye-opener for the problems that older people face in doing their shopping and in Food Train’s work to tackle malnutrition and social isolation.

“People find it’s rewarding to support Food Train,” Stephen said. “At this time people just wanted to help. There was a feeling of helplessness. People were looking for ways to make a difference and were drawn to us because what we do is so simple, yet effective.”

Food Train chief executive Michelle Carruthers has also expressed her gratitude to all those who have supported the charity’s work.

She said: “Thank you to everyone who has come forward to help our work over the past year. The response has been remarkable.”

For more about the charity’s services, email shopping@thefoodtrain.co.uk or call 0800 3047924.

If you would like to register as a volunteer, visit Food Train HERE.