Edinburgh youth charity takes on meals mission to respond to coronavirus pandemic

Thousands of free healthy meals for vulnerable

Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th April 2020, 12:08 pm
Scran Academy uses four kitchens to produce thousands of meals PIC: Hannah Bailey

A SMALL Pilton-based youth charity has transformed itself into a highly-organised production line getting thousands of free, healthy meals safely distributed to vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis.

John Loughton, winner of Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack, said Scran Academy - the social enterprise he founded three years ago to help disadvantaged young people gain qualifications and work experience in catering and hospitality - had been repurposed to join the global battle against Covid-19.

John’s day job as a leadership coach and youth work trainer at his business Dare2Lead ground to a halt because of the virus, so he has been focusing all his efforts on producing and distributing meals to people ordered to self-isolate.

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Meals are delivered to the doors of the vulnerable and physical distancing rules observed PIC: Hannah Bailey

He said: “Despite my own career stopping and having to isolate myself due to Covid-19 symptoms, our instinct is to help those at greatest risk. Within two weeks we’ve funded, cooked and delivered over 3,600 meals to the most needy and at risk people in Edinburgh.

“Thanks to all our volunteers, staff and partners, we will deliver a further 2,100 this week. We are hoping to engage with the council and government, as we can potentially expand to over 10,000 per week.”

The group’s main kitchen is at the FetLor youth centre in Crewe Road South but it also has use of three others to help produce the meals.

John said: “Safety is paramount, and we are led by trained and qualified chefs, to strict health standards in monitored kitchens.”

The group is hoping to expand its work across the city PIC: Hannah Bailey

And Scran Academy is fundaising through a JustGiving page to expand its work across the city.

It already has a network of partnership organisations with a total of 12 minibuses to get the meals out.

John said: “Small community groups with existing relationships of trust, are like the fifth emergency service to many.

“Our key aims are to prevent those at risk panicking, going hungry or having to venture out for food.

“But it isn’t just food - we are giving people a friendly welcome face every day, and building wee relationships as people feel so alone.

“And the community spirit has been great. From bakeries and hair salons to local families and the airport, people have really been getting behind us, it has been very touching.”

Scran Academy’s JustGiving page is here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/scranmeals