Portgordon Pantry forced to move indoors after food larder repeatedly vandalised
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PORTGORDON Pantry has been forced to move indoors after repeated vandalism.
The Pantry – which offers locals struggling during the pandemic a place to pick up food and essentials – was vandalised for the fourth time in a few weeks on Wednesday night.
This has left the Portgordon Coronavirus Support Group (PCSG), which runs the pantry, with no option but to move it inside.
Plans are now being put in place for it to be run out of Portgordon Village Hall.
This means locals in need can no longer nip by and use the larder anonymously whenever needed and, for the time being, will need to book appointments – with volunteers needed to run the pantry.
PCSG chairman Scott Sliter said: "There has been a series of vandalism over the last few weeks and we have been left with no option but to close the larder.
"It was a gut-wrenching decision to make. We are now strategising how to work it out of the village hall.
"The reason we had pantry outside is because we want it to be accessible 24/7 and allow people to maintain their anonymity.
"We didn't want anyone to feel uncomfortable accessing the larder and want people to be able to visit a time appropriate for them.
"It will be restricted access now, by appointment, and users will have to speak to someone to gain access.
"We are doing our best to ensure people who benefit from the pantry's use won't be impacted any more than they have been already."
In the last few weeks, primary school children had been caught taking items from the larder and going door-to-door trying to sell them.
Mr Sliter insisted he is not looking to lambaste the youngsters, but teach them of the pantry's importance.
He added: "It's distressing to know young people in our community are making a difficult situation more difficult for people in need.
"We want to educate them and enlighten on why, as a community, we must stick together. We don't want to be hard and heavy, we want them to understand the importance of the larder.
"So many people have been working hard to support Portgordon and that makes this harder to take."
But it's important to make a positive out of negative in difficult times – and that's why PCSG is now appealing for volunteers to help with their move into the village hall, as well as encouraging those in need to come forward.
To begin with, the pantry will run on an appointment basis but thereafter it is hoped volunteers can look after it during set times.
If you can help – or need the help of – the pantry ring the covid-19 support number on 07399 031 253.
The group has funding available through the Scottish Government and can offer financial relief packages, food vouchers, home heating and electric vouchers, phone top ups and more.
Donations of anything used in day-to-day living are also still being taken.