Well it has been an EXTRAORDINARY 6 months hasn’t it!?

Who would have thought that we would be sending out an update about the Social Supermarket whilst the world is living through a pandemic!

But here we are.

First of all, we sincerely hope you are and have all been well.

Carol, I, and our families have been extremely fortunate that no one has been struck down with the virus however, like everyone else, we have all been affected by the lockdown in some or form.

If anyone has been following our facebook updates you’ll know where we’re at but for those who don’t, we thought we’d give you a quick update.

As lock-down loomed, shops closed, business closed their doors and people found themselves being furloughed, put on reduced hours or worse still laid off completely, we knew we had to do something.

We couldn’t speed up the opening of our social supermarket as our premises weren’t quite ready but with the foundations already in place with Fareshare we adapted our model, pulled together a handful of essential volunteers (mostly friends and family), asked our friends at Angus Up cycle if we could use their premises at Strathmore Hall and started what ended up being called the S-Mart Grocery Pack Initiative. Basically, anyone who finds themselves being affected by COVID can come along and collect a grocery pack.

We were asked by Fareshare if we could take collections for local community groups who normally collected food from their depot and of course, we said yes.
We very quickly became one of four emergency food providers in Angus alongside Angus Foodbank, Angus Council and Voluntary Action Angus.
We made sure that the grocery packs contained enough food to be able to prepare 3 meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for 3 days twice a week. 9 meals per person, per grocery pack, twice a week. We packed bags and boxes depending on how many people were in a household. For example, a family of six would receive 36 meals which equates to 12 breakfasts, 12 lunches, 12 evening meals as well as fresh fruit, veg and treats for the household.

The biggest family we had was a blended family of 8, 2 adults and their 6 kids. Some people were ordering and collecting for their community like the Glensview Community Group, some people collected orders that their shielded family members couldn’t come out to get, some people collected for vulnerable neighbours, we provided grocery packs to students from the Dundee and Angus College which the fabulous Tatiana would come and collect and deliver to their doors.
We’ve worked in partnership with the Angus Food Bank, Brechin Community Pantry, Lowson Church, Carnoustie Food Bank, and we provided food and support to help set up Kirrie Food Hub.

We applied for and were lucky enough to receive funding from Scottish Government, national organisations such as the Lottery Awards for All, local businesses like the Clova Hotel and smaller community groups like the Carnoustie Sick Nurses Association. We’ve had so many kind and generous donations from people online, cheques through the post and in our donation buckets from people coming to collect grocery packs. The lovely workers from Fairlie Farm Monikie all banded together to give a cash donation too!

We’ve had over £10,000 worth of goods and services in kind from the likes of Miller’s Flooring Company, Redhackle Original, Forfar Removals, Carnoustie Creative, Eve Mumford PR Services and food donations from all of the main supermarkets, Liddle, Aldi and Strathmore Foods. We’re getting tatties from the Millers, potato farmers of Tealing, veg bags bought and paid for from Titanic Pizza Co. in Carnoustie, not to mention the use of a van from Mackie motors which has allowed us to deliver the grocery packages across Angus when people can’t come in to collect them.

We’ve had people from every walk of life call up for grocery packs, so many who have never in their lifetime ever had to ask anyone for anything let alone food. People have been in tears on the phone when calling for a grocery pack, people have said they felt “embarrassed”, “ashamed”, “mortified” We’ve done our best to make sure everyone knows there was nothing to be ashamed of, reassure them that everyone is pretty much in the same boat. So many people have said they now have a better understanding, empathy, and appreciation of what so many people have to live through on a daily basis when it comes to food insecurity. As someone quite rightly said when collecting their package, “Anything can happen to anyone at anytime and with the Pandemic it’s happened to everyone no matter what their previous financial position”

We finally got the keys to our fabulous new premises on 11th of May.  We took a day to get everything moved from the Strathmore Hall (Massive thanks to the volunteers for helping move all the food and Forfar Removals who picked up and moved our fridges and freezers) and set up in our new place as best we could, missing only one day of providing grocery packs.

Since starting the Community First Social Supermarket Grocery Pack initiative on April 18th, to date, we have provided over 28,000 meals to people in Angus affected by COVID19.

Simultaneously working as fast as we could, following and adhering to the strict rules of social distancing ensuring the safety of staff and customers and with the help of our volunteers, other businesses, individuals, trades people, and the community, we opened our doors on the 4th of July 2020.

We know we were needed before COVID19.

We know we and others like us have never been needed more than now.

Pauline Lockhart, (CEO, Community First UK)