Jan 25 2012 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Wednesday
AN EXPANDING shopping scheme designed to help Stirlingshire’s elderly population retain independence in their own homes has spread into Dunblane.
A total of 14 people in the cathedral city will now pay for their groceries to be delivered as part of the volunteer-led Food Train service.
The recent increase means that the project now caters for 55 of the region’s senior citizens, who are assisted by various combinations of the 34 volunteers who have signed up.
Shopping lists are collected from recipients on Mondays, and the requested items are subsequently delivered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Stirling, and Thursdays in Dunblane.
Co-ordinator Fran Thow said anyone wishing to lend a hand is interviewed, officially vetted, and offered a trial run at either being a shopper, driver or assistant before being formally placed on the rota.
She added: “Many more volunteers are needed to enable Food Train to continue to grow and be available to any older person in Stirlingshire who needs help and support with their grocery shopping.
“We’re looking to attract a core of about 60 volunteers but the required number entirely depends on the amount of people who sign up to have their groceries delivered.
“People from all walks of life have got involved with the volunteering side of things – we’ve got teachers, civil engineers, young people, housewives and others who are looking to get into full-time work but are perhaps looking to build their confidence up first.”
A similar Stirling Council-run service, which has had a presence within the region for many years and also included things such as prescription collection and errands to the Post Office – among others – is in the process of being phased out.
Following a high-profile Food Train launch event in November last year, several disgruntled local authority employees contacted the Observer to say they had been placed on a six-month ‘redeployment’ programme by council chiefs.
As many as half a dozen social care staff were said to have been affected by the changes implemented at the tail end of last year, as well as a small number of office workers.
The ‘redeployment’ process means those involved are offered alternative roles within the local authority, albeit often in different departments and in some cases requiring different skills.
A spokesperson for Stirling Council said the recent expansion of Food Train into Dunblane “doesn’t affect” the future of any other local authority employees.
She went on to describe the council’s existing shopping service as in a “transitional phase” and said Stirling Council would provide a grocery delivery scheme until Food Train has grown to encompass the entire local authority area.
“It’s up to the individuals themselves to decide whether or not they want to either use Food Train or make alternative arrangements,” the council representative concluded.
For more information on Food Train, or to volunteer, contact Fran Thow on 01786 450536 or email firstname.lastname@example.org