As Parliament was in recess last week, Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford took the opportunity to visit some local organisations.
Dr Whiteford stopped past Peterhead foodbank, Joseph’s Storehouse on Monday, February 17 to meet with the volunteers who run it and hear about the lifeline support it provides to the local community.
The facility, which started operations in April 2013, is based at the Apex Centre in Broad Street and is run by volunteers from the church.
Speaking after her visit, Eilidh said: “I was very pleased to be able to visit Joseph’s Storehouse to learn about the very valuable support the volunteers are providing to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
“It was good to meet the volunteers who work with a wide range of statutory and voluntary sector agencies to make sure that those in need get support.
“Most of the donations come through church members who give small amounts on a regular basis.”
Eilidh added: “Across Scotland, foodbank use has increased fivefold in the last year, with increases driven by mostly steep hikes in the cost of living – especially for essentials like food and heating – and the UK Government’s cuts to welfare provision.
“No-one in a country as prosperous as Scotland should be dependent on food parcels.
“Although Peterhead is one of the wealthier parts of Scotland, it’s important to remember that there are significant numbers of people struggling on very low incomes in our community.”
The Joseph Storehouse held a one-off collection at Peterhead’s Morrisons store on December 7 for customers to donate various items of food which managed to fill 12 trolleys with each item making a big difference to families who rely on the foodbank service.
Volunteers at The Joseph Storehouse would like to thank Morrisons and customers who very kindly donated items. They said: “The support was absolutely fantastic and it was great to see the community come together and do us proud, we can’t thank everyone enough.
“We managed to put together a large number of hampers for those who would normally have no Christmas dinner - people never know how much difference donating a tin of beans will make.”
The Joseph Storehouse are currently looking for donations of tea, coffee, sugar, cereal, pasta and soup.
To donate, visit the Hot Spot or pop items into the donation station at the Apex Centre between 4pm and 5pm on Mondays or 2pm to 3pm on Tuesdays.
For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Tuesday, Dr Whiteford praised Fraserburgh Development Trust, after a tour of the John Smith and Sons bakery in New Pitsligo.
Dr Whiteford met with Ian Watson, Chair of Fraserburgh Development Trust, and General Manager Andy Leiper, before taking a tour of the current facility and meeting staff members.
The family business was established in 1903, and remained in family ownership until earlier this year, when it was sold to Fraserburgh Development Trust for conversion into a social enterprise.
The business employs 25 people locally and sells baked goods across the north-east of Scotland.
The Trust plans to replace the current premises with a new state of the art bakery within the next two years at a site close by.
Speaking after her visit, Dr Whiteford said: “These are truly exciting plans and a long-term blueprint for a business that is both socially and financially sustainable.
“The Smith family deserve congratulation for building and developing the business over the 20th century and Fraserburgh Development Trust deserve credit for taking it into the 21st.”
Dr Whiteford’s final visits took place on Thursday, February 20.
She stopped by Peterhead’s Apex Church Hall for lunch as the Prince’s Trust Team 32 held a fundraising Soup and Sweet to raise money for their community project.
For the first time, the team will take on two projects at once - redecorating both the Peterhead Learning House and Peterhead Project’s new base at Marischal Street.
Commenting, Dr Whiteford said: “I always try to support the Prince’s Trust in Peterhead as they have done a great amount of excellent work over a number of years.
“The Prince’s Trust gives youngsters a big help to boost their confidence and esteem and helps to give them faith in themselves and their abilities.
“They also gain skills and experience which can enable them to apply for college courses or jobs.”
She added: “The team have worked hard preparing the food and I would recommend Leanne’s Sticky Toffee Pudding.”
Prince’s Trust team leader, Bryan Mackay said: “The team have been working hard and have been mucking in since half past nine this morning.
“They made all the food here including soup, macaroni, cheesecake and even the tea and coffee.”
After her lunch, Dr Whiteford praised the introduction of an expanded mobile banking service for customers in the Central Buchan area following a visit to New Pitsligo to meet with staff and see the service in action.
The Royal Bank initially introduced its local mobile service in 2006 after the Clydesdale Bank closed the majority of its branches in the North-east. The service was recently expanded to include New Pitsligo and Mintlaw every Thursday.
She said: “While a lot of banking transactions can be carried out online these days, there is still a need for a counter service for obtaining cash, paying in cheques or settling bills so I’m delighted that RBS has made this strong commitment to our rural communities by expanding this service to include more villages.”