Charity chiefs have hailed the “extraordinary blossoming” of festive goodwill as food bank donations swell in the run-up to Christmas – with enough supplies donated to last until Easter.
More than 36 tonnes of groceries have been handed in to Edinburgh’s five main food banks since November – double that of the same period last year and enough to feed a fifth of the Capital’s population. And with provisions for at least 85,000 meals now stored away and set to last four months, bosses insisted there was no reason anyone should go hungry this Christmas.
The news comes as Shelter revealed its festive campaign to encourage people to buy presents for homeless children had seen more than 1000 gifts sent to the organisation’s Edinburgh offices so far – four times as many as last year.
A host of restaurants and cafes, including Steak, Social Bite and Babu-G in Penicuik, are dishing up free meals for the homeless on Christmas Day.
Ewan Aitken, chief executive of city charity Cyrenians – which seeks to tackle poverty and homelessness – said the boost in seasonal goodwill marked an “extraordinary” change in attitude. He said: “There is no question that people are turning away from greed.
“I think this winter we are seeing that blossoming, and I think it’s extraordinary. People want to serve their neighbour.
“People are beginning to think about what it would be like for them outside in the freezing weather. They are empathising in a way I have not really seen before.
“We are moving away from veneration of the individual into an attitude that wants to help our neighbours.”
Ewan Gurr, network manager at the Trussell Trust – which coordinates Edinburgh’s five main food banks – praised the “selfless and generous” donations from city residents.
He said: “We have seen increasing generosity every single year that we have been in existence. December is still the month in which we see the most individuals and families coming through our doors. But Scots in every single part of the country are incredibly selfless and generous.
“We see an absolutely humongous amount of food coming in every year and especially in the run-up to Christmas.
“If you give people an opportunity – a straightforward, simple way of giving – they will respond.”
He added: “Food poverty is a very evil thing, and it’s not something that you would want anyone to experience. When politicians describe it as a scandal they are absolutely correct.
“Every one one of us feels motivated – especially at Christmas – to do something for someone.”
Fiona King, campaigns manager at Shelter Scotland, said the response to the charity’s Christmas campaign to give presents to homeless children had been “phenomenal”.
She added: “Christmas is a really important time for a lot of charities in terms of getting their message out.
“Around Christmas people are more willing to give to charity and will be thinking about charity. We always see an increase in people getting in touch and wanting to help out, which is great.”
Keep on giving, please
DESPITE the surge of donations, the Trussell Trust needs the big-hearted people of Edinburgh to keep donating.
A shopping list can be downloaded from edinburghnw.foodbank.org.uk so items donated are those required, while financial contributions can also be made.
Shelter Scotland, meanwhile, accepts donations of unwanted items at its stores and money online.
It’s a Hibee Christmas at Streetwork
HIBS were doing their bit for the homeless when two players dropped in to help serve up Christmas dinner at a charity.
Club captain Liam Craig and David Gray offered a helping hand at Streetwork in Holyrood Road.
As well as dishing up the meals, the duo also had a Christmas gift for Jamie G, Jamie Lee and Colin Brown.
They handed out tickets to a Hibs game, which means the trio can watch their heroes as they continue their recent good form in the Championship.
It comes after Hibs fans donated in numbers to the Trussell Trust food bank before the Alloa game.