FLS building repurposed as community hub for COVID effort
A former visitor centre in Ardgartan that has been out of use for some time has been re-purposed…as a food bank distribution point to support the community in Arrochar and Tarbet.
Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) building, which have been unused and vacant for almost ten years, were due to be occupied by a new tenant – local Councillor, Iain Paterson - in time for the visitor season.
However, with his plans now delayed because of the impact of COVID-19, Mr Paterson has instead set up a community service along with his wife Fiona to help those who are badly impacted by the lockdown. FLS has made the buildings available to him free of charge until the distribution service is no longer required.
Councillor Paterson said;
“The lockdown has affected everyone in one way or another. It’s especially hard on those who are most vulnerable and I wanted to do something to support these two small communities, and help people understand that, although we might be in lockdown, they are not alone in this.
“I’ve got the assistance of a group of local volunteers and we are all very careful about maintaining physical distance and following all the government and NHS guidelines.
“On our first day , we distributed 70 food parcels within our community - with lots of baking contributions from residents, many of whom are self-isolating. These amazing people have also been providing telephone support – and even offering mediation classes - which not only helps the community but has a really beneficial effect on their own well-being.”
Iain and Fiona package the food and other supplies and place it on a platform at the back of the building where volunteers pick it up and deliver it those in need and in higher risk categories throughout the community. Fiona has been successfully co-ordinating the operation and has focused her energies on caring for the vulnerable in the village and making sure that no one is forgotten.
Café proprietor, Melanie Tonks, has also been instrumental in the community effort, channelling her energy and drive into collecting supplies and ensuring that enough food is prepared for all.
The exercise has been made possible thanks to grant support from the Hannah Stirling Loch Lomond Charitable Trust, (secured by Chair of the Arrochar and Tarbet Development Trust, Duncan Macglachlan) which is being used to buy ingredients, packaging and PPE for the volunteers who are collecting donations and delivering the food packages and prescriptions to the community.
Councillor Paterson added;
“The support I’ve had from FLS has also been very welcome and their generous offer to have free use of these buildings has been a great help in making sure that we were able to get this up and running.”
Stuart Chalmers, FLS Regional Visitor Services Manager in the area, said;
“The building has been sitting idle for some time and we had been looking at how we might be able to make use of it. Unfortunately, the lockdown came into effect and put those plans on hold but when Iain approached us with this idea we were more than happy to help.”
Notes to editors
- Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) manages forests and land owned by Scottish Minsters in a way that supports and enables economically sustainable forestry; conserves and enhances the environment; delivers benefits for people; and supports Scottish Ministers in their stewardship of Scotland's national forests and land.
- forestryandland.gov.scot | www.twitter.com/ForestryLS