East Lothian woman Mags Gillan launches pet foodbank to help feed pets during cost of living crisis

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Tranent woman behind kind-hearted group hopes to raise vital funds

A Tranent woman who set-up what she believes is East Lothian’s only foodbank for pets last year is now fundraising to help more local people provide food for their beloved cats, dogs and even hamsters.

Pet lover Margaret ‘Mags’ Gillan, a support worker for Enable Scotland, launched a pet foodbank last October, called Pet Foodbank East Lothian. The 48-year-old has a cat, a dog, budgies and a gecko at home, with a hamster also staying with her just now.

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Kind-hearted Mags runs the pet foodbank from home, offering mostly cat and dog food but also hamster food and cat litter. And, as she has no car she has to use buses to get around the pick-up and drop-off donations.

Margaret Gillan from Tranent who launched the pet foodbank in East Lothian last year, pictured with her dog Oscar.Margaret Gillan from Tranent who launched the pet foodbank in East Lothian last year, pictured with her dog Oscar.
Margaret Gillan from Tranent who launched the pet foodbank in East Lothian last year, pictured with her dog Oscar.

She said: “I was thinking that it’s really tough on folk working but not having that much money. I thought, ‘if my family didn’t help me out, what would I do?’ So I decided to start the pet foodbank. If the foodbanks are struggling to feed people they will definitely be struggling to feed animals. So I thought I would start this and see how I get on.

"So I asked for pet food donations and went to the Original Factory shop in Tranent and I asked if they would set-up a donation point for pet food donations. They agreed and are happy to help. They put out a basket for people to donate, I told folk on Facebook and all of a sudden it all started to come in. Premier Newsagents at Muir Park in Tranent also accept donations. It all goes through me.

"I believe this is the only pet foodbank in East Lothian. I have people who donate monthly. Another lady donated through Amazon, having pet food sent to me. I then visit people that need the pet food to drop-off donations. There are people who really rely on it. I had one woman who worked in the hospital and really struggled in January but she managed to get back on her feet. Some people I have helped have then donated themselves when they were able to. People find it hard, they feel embarrassed that they have to use this, but they shouldn’t feel embarrassed, anybody can get into difficulty financially just now, what with bills and prices going up. Once you have paid your bills and done a shop there is never much left in the pot to get pet food.”

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Mags explained why she is fundraising online, with a £500 target, and what a difference raising that money will make, as people struggle to feed their pets during the cost of living crisis.

She said: "My stocks have gone down so I set-up this GoFundMe page and every single penny will go towards food and litter. The stock levels go up and down. So this fundraiser will help it go on longer. It will keep this going for a good few months. I hope it does well.

"I have to say a massive thank you to everyone who has already donated, it means so much, and will help so many people in East Lothian struggling to provide food for their pets. People get in touch through Facebook. While Citizen’s Advice also got in touch with me about helping people. I hope I can help keep the pressure off the foodbanks as I believe they are struggling to provide pet food. I’m not competing with the foodbanks, I just want to help in any way I can.

"Some people are embarrassed about going to foodbanks and maybe feel better coming to me. I have got a wee trolley and I just fill it up and give out the donations. I had a young girl come to me who was sharing her food with her cats. It was such a shame. Animals are good for people’s health, particularly mental health so it can be devastating to have to give up your pets.”

You can donate to the fundraiser or email Mags at [email protected] to donate pet food. You can also contact her via her Facebook page.

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