Bank’s battle is just beginning

Norma Cowan at the Cumbernauld House of Bread foodbank.Norma Cowan at the Cumbernauld House of Bread foodbank.
Norma Cowan at the Cumbernauld House of Bread foodbank.
The gifts of food arrive at town centre church Cornerstone House every day - whether as a bag of groceries from one generous shopper or in larger quantities from local churches or other organisations.

The contents cover all the basic staples, and can include quality baby food as well as fresh fruit and vegetables.

And those free bags often make all the difference between an anxious and hungry two or three days for a needy family and something like normal life.

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But no matter how much stock arrives those rows and rows of fully-packed bags will usually all go in one of the two four-hour weekly sessions.

Organiser Norma Cowan isgearing up to extend the service by launching a food co-op on May 9.

It will allow people who do have money within their weekly budget to choose from a restricted but useful range of ultra low-cost goods.

These include a selection of the standard toiletries without which life would be unbearable.

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However at the same time Norma says she is aware the demand - from people with no money, and those with only very limited funds - is going to keep growing.

“That presents us with a challenge,” she says, “because we do not turn anybody away.

“We do use reasonable care when somebody arrives for the first time, because there can be a very small minority who would take advantage.

“But overwhelmingly we’re helping people who genuinely need help, and who often come here as referrals.”

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“We help every type of person you can imagine,” says Norma, “and in turn a lot of people help us - from young volunteers to local churches . The last few weeks have been a good spell because a lot of Roman Catholics observing Lent have donated items they’d otherwise have used at home.

She adds: “Asda in Cumbernauld have been fantastic - the help they have given us has been first class, and it is great to see them giving something back to the community.

“The generosity of the people of Cumbernauld has been overwhelming, and we could not have operated for this length of time without their help.

“But it would be good if local companies were to do something too, and if the council were able to do anything to support us.

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“Could we even look towards getting a young person to work for a funded job here, whether full or part time?”

At the moment the venture runs entirely on voluntary donation, but given the social crisis caused by benefit the demand can only get greater.

Local firms, and the council, could hold the key to how this invaluable crisis resource is able to help people in future.

A little, as in the classic Bible story about food, can go a long way.

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