The Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth John Swinney has praised the essential work of the voluntary sector at Christmas on his tour of Transform Community Development’s new-look Dundee premises.
Through its work with national charity FareShare the Dundee project aims to reduce food poverty and offers training and volunteering opportunities to service users and local people in the community.
During the visit he saw first-hand the efforts of the third sector organisation which provides balanced meals and shelter to homeless and vulnerable people in the city.
Mr Swinney also toured the Jessie Devlin Hostel which is one of Transform’s residential and sheltered accommodation housing and available for vulnerable people.
He said: “Christmas should be a time for fun and festivities but it can be tough for people across the country who are living in poverty.
“The Scottish Government is committed to tackling and preventing homelessness. Official statistics published last month revealed fewer people are becoming homeless in Scotland, with a 14 per cent decrease of households living in temporary accommodation at the end of June compared with 2013.
“Transform’s work on Zero Waste Scotland’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign complements what they are doing with FareShare as it’s all about making the most of the food we have.
“Social enterprises, voluntary organisations and community organisations play an important part in Scottish society. They deliver superb services and help to connect with the most vulnerable people in our communities, which is especially important during the festive period which can be a particularly difficult time of year.
“It was an honour to meet the people who run and use Transform’s FareShare scheme and sheltered accommodation. Such excellent projects just show how charities can work in partnership with retailers like Asda and cut down on food waste and feed those in need at the same time.”
The charity collects donations of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products from suppliers and retailers like Brakes, Nestle and Asda then hands them out to disadvantaged groups in the area.
The food, which would otherwise end up in landfill because of packaging errors, over production or short shelf lives, is redistributed to those in need in Dundee, Perth, Kinross and Angus.
Transform Community Development Trust’s CEO Simon Laidlaw said: “We have been involved with FareShare since it began and are extremely proud of what it achieves.
“In particular in times of austerity and public sector cuts it is good to be able to assist other voluntary organisations, taking some pressure off and enabling them to enhance the services they provide for vulnerable people.
“With food poverty on the increase it makes sense that we should be working with the industry to ensure that no good food goes to waste and that those in need get the benefit.”
Asda’s Scottish Corporate Affairs Manager Polly Jones, added: “With over 60 Asda stores in Scotland, even a couple of extra cases of food here and there can quickly add up to hundreds of tonnes of surplus stock. By working with FareShare we can ensure this good quality food doesn’t go to waste.
“Asda’s contribution provides 3.6 million meals for the good causes FareShare supports, helping to alleviate food poverty and saving the charities money to invest in essential services. The partnership is a simple and practical way for Asda to turn an environmental problem into a real benefit for the communities we serve.”