Food project volunteer Karen up for Community Champion at this year's Local Hero Awards

A volunteer who is the driving force behind a successful community food project has been shortlisted for an award recognising her efforts.
Karen Soar, marking the pantry's first birthday earlier this year.Karen Soar, marking the pantry's first birthday earlier this year.
Karen Soar, marking the pantry's first birthday earlier this year.

Karen Soar, who helped to establish the Central Dalkeith & Woodburn Pantry, is a Finalist in the Community Champion Award at the Edinburgh Evening News Local Hero Awards.

The project is a community food pantry open to any household in the Central Dalkeith and Woodburn area, which can sign up to a free membership and do a weekly shop for £3.50.

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This allows them 10 points to purchase grocery items ranging from tinned meat to soups and tinned vegetables, toiletries from shampoo to toothpaste, household cleaning items and other essentials. With every shop is offered completely free fresh fruit and vegetables, bread and bread products, pet food, and period and incontinence products.

A spokesperson said: “In 2022, Karen was instrumental in setting up our local community food initiative. We have a wonderful team of volunteer committee members but Karen has dedicated herself almost full-time to running the Pantry.

"Every Friday when we open, Karen is the first one in the door and the last one out. She knows most of our members by name and has organised cards and presents for weddings, birthdays and moving days.

“Karen values our volunteers so highly, and has organised Christmas and summer celebrations for everyone in her own home. She has organised flowers when volunteers have had operations and always wishes everyone a happy birthday. Our volunteering team feels like a family, and I think much of that is down to Karen and the environment she fosters at the Pantry.

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“When we surveyed our members a few months ago they described it as ‘really welcoming,’ and ‘the best thing that has happened in the community.’ The Pantry means so much to our members, and it just wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Karen stepping up to make it happen.”

The winner of the award will be announced at a black tie event at the Sheraton Hotel on December 6.

The Pantry operates from the MARC building, 10 Woodburn Road, every Friday from 1.30pm to 5.30pm.