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Huge increase in demand for emergency food from Catalyst Vineyard Storehouse

By Kirsty Brown

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Catalyst Vineyard Church, which has a church in Ellon, has seen a huge rise in demand for its Storehouse foodbank project since the pandemic started.

Across its eight locations in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, Storehouse provided 57 tonnes of emergency food, more than 10 times as much as the same period last year.

The Ellon Storehouse has been working collaboratively with other Ellon based churches, community groups and foodbanks to meet the need that exists in the town and surrounding areas.

Pastor for Catalyst Vineyard Church Ellon Tammy Docherty said: "It’s an incredible privilege to be able to play our part and help people where we can.

"Many households have found themselves in a real crisis, but the incredible thing is that we’ve seen the Ellon community pulling together and responding with staggering levels of generosity from individuals, local businesses, and community groups who have donated huge amounts to help our appeal.

"We've worked especially closely with our friends at the Ellon Parish Church and Ellon Baptist Church who operate food banks and have worked tirelessly to clean, sort and pack the food up as well as the Ellon Community Resilience group, a group of volunteers who provided much-needed support in the delivery of food and offer of support to those ill, isolating or shielding.

"We particularly saw massive generosity just before Christmas where, in conjunction with local schools, we pledged to donate 80 gifts and food parcels of Christmas goodies to kids who needed a wee extra something last year.

"As well as that, we have a sensational team of dedicated volunteers, led by our brilliant Social Transformation Leaders here at Catalyst Vineyard Church Ellon, Tracey and Gordon Davidson, who have stepped up and risen to the challenge of operating foodbank collection points, excess food pick ups daily and food drop offs to those in need during the pandemic.

"We also have some very kind people in our church community who have put a 'crate at the gate', this initiative makes it easier for people to drop off food at their leisure at a garden gate near them.

"The person displaying the crate at the gate then take the food to the drop off points available.

"For more info please on how to do this yourself in your area please go to the website Catalyst.vin and look for Storehouse Foodbank for printable flyers and signs for this.

"We’ve heard some incredible stories of kindness as well; the managers and engineers at Sky, who's workloads were massively reduced in each lockdown, offered their services as delivery drivers who come out and pick up food and distribute it across the shire to our multiple church locations - incredible!

"And kids using their pocket money, junior football teams, and local Scout groups collecting and donating to our foodbank too.

"Even Ellon Academy used their dress down day to help out by asking pupils to bring a donation instead of money, we had a mammoth donation from them which was much needed for the festive period.

"We'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone for their continued support, helping us provide hope and dignity to those who need it most right now."

Ellon youngsters Kyle and Ethan set up a Crate At The Gate.
Ellon youngsters Kyle and Ethan set up a Crate At The Gate.

Catalyst Vineyard Church prior to lockdown met in eight different locations across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, for 11 different services but has been live-streaming its worship services since the start of the pandemic.

The services, which have had thousands of views, have reached and brought hope to people who have never been part of church before.

Everyone is free to join them via livestream.catalyst.vin each Sunday at 10.30am from the comfort of your own home.

Catalyst also has something for children too; pre-school kids have a program at 9am, primary at 9.30am on Sundays and teenagers have one on a Tuesday at 6.45pm, all from the same link.

You can also catch up on Youtube by searching Catalyst Vineyard Church.

The pastors in Ellon, Tammy and Brian, want everyone to know that they are all warmly invited.

The Transform team at Catalyst Vineyard delivers several other projects besides Storehouse across the north east, including free debt help, a money and budgeting course, a telephone befriending service and a community chaplaincy service that supports individuals being released from prison.

The Transform team's Ross Sutherland, who is keen to point out that the help doesn't stop with emergency food, said: "The idea is that Storehouse acts like a gateway to other support which will help people to tackle some of the issues surrounding food poverty.

"Although several of our activities are on hold, we feel passionate about providing support beyond emergency food which helps restore hope and dignity, so we’ve found some new and innovative ways to deliver our core services despite current conditions."

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on jobs and household incomes.

Government data shows the number of people claiming universal credit in Aberdeenshire has soared from 6,938 in March 2020 to 14,080 in October 2020, an increase of over 100 percent.

People in need of emergency food can visit hello.catalyst.vin to request help.

People who wish to donate food can drop it off at the Catalyst van at the following times and locations

  • Mondays from 6-6:30pm at Newburgh Inn Car Park.
  • Tuesdays from 6-6:30pm at Pitmedden School Car Park.
  • Wednesdays from 6-6:30pm at Riverside Car Park, Ellon.
Collecting donations in the van were Frank and Ruth.
Collecting donations in the van were Frank and Ruth.

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