‘Scandalous’: Glasgow charity facing axe says older people will suffer

A “lifeline” Glasgow charity which delivers food to hundreds of older people is facing the axe.

The chief executive of Food Train in Govanhill says the city council’s recommendation to stop supporting the service is “scandalous” and will leave older people in danger of becoming “seriously ill”.

Now the charity is appealing to councillors – who meet to discuss the recommendations tomorrow (Thursday, January 12) – to step in and save its shopping, home support and befriending services across the city.

Glasgow Times:

Without Glasgow City Council’s backing, Food Train’s Glasgow branch – where volunteers support more than 400 people with delivering shopping and meals every year – faces closure in March, removing critical support for over-65s already struggling with the cost of living crisis. 

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Food Train’s operations across the city, based at Govanhill, have been supported by Glasgow City Council for the past decade.

Glasgow Times: Michelle CarruthersMichelle Carruthers (Image: Glasgow Food Train)

Its application for funding of £447,000 over the next three years is on a list of bids that members of the City Administration Committee are being recommended to refuse.

Michelle said: “This is a scandalous recommendation – one which will put significant numbers of older people across Glasgow in danger of becoming malnourished and seriously ill.

“To recommend pulling the plug completely on our funding has shocked everyone – to close a vital social support service when the NHS and social care are under huge strain, makes no sense.

“To be hit with this bolt out of the blue less than two days before councillors consider the recommendation is alarming. Hundreds of older people across the whole city will be left without food.

“We’re talking about peoples’ lives. The lives of the older people we support, the lives of the people we employ and the work of the volunteers who work so incredibly hard to make what we do possible. It’s a complete kick in the teeth.”

Food Train leaders are today (Wednesday) contacting councillors and MSPs in an attempt to rally support for the funding recommendation reversal.

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Chairperson Mahdi Hasan, who has been a volunteer with the Glasgow branch for seven years, said: “We know that funding is tight and that difficult decisions need to be made – but how can we rationalise or make economic sense by removing the support systems that would risk worsening lives and piling more pressure on our NHS and social care services at a time when they are already under remarkable strain?

Glasgow Times: Mahdi HasanMahdi Hasan (Image: Gordon Terris/Newsquest)

“Without our deliveries, our members would struggle to get decent and nutritious shopping supplies so that they can eat properly.

“The reality is that many of the services Food Train provides have filled the gap left by years of cuts in council social care budgets.”

Demand on Food Train’s services across Glasgow rocketed by 70 percent during the pandemic.

Michelle added: “Our volunteers and staff were there for record numbers of people across Glasgow when they needed us most. Now we are asking councillors to be there for us.”

Glasgow Times: Kirsty Gibbs says the loss of Food Train would be 'a shock'.Kirsty Gibbs says the loss of Food Train would be ‘a shock’. (Image: Glasgow Food Train)

Kirsty Gibbs, 76, is a wheelchair user and registered blind. She has been supported by Food Train since 2019.

“This is a shock, and it is very short-sighted of the council to remove what is a lifesaver service for many of us,” said Kirsty, a former art teacher who lives in the west end.

“I don’t have any family and I couldn’t ask friends all the time to help me. Supermarkets do deliver but you have to be online and I don’t see well enough to do that – I know many older people simply are not online at all.

“I will be stuck without this.”

Councillor Christina Cannon, City Convener for Education, Communities and Equalities said the process had been “comprehensive and robust” but that the council did not have “an infinite pot of money.”

She added: “This is a huge investment in the third sector and organisations who will deliver a variety of support across the three main aims of the Glasgow Communities Fund (GCF) – equalities, arts and culture and supporting communities.

“We know that organisations who have not been recommend for grant funding will be disappointed and officers will be offering feedback and meaningful support.

“Unfortunately we do not have an infinite pot of money and we need to use the resources of the council – especially during these challenging, financial times – in the most supportive and effective way to meet the needs of Glaswegians and our communities.”


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