RBS staff member given British Empire Medal for work on food bank at Gogarburn
Sheena Hales came up with the idea of using the Gogarburn conference centre as a food bank distribution centre during the lockdown.
Since March the centre has distributed an average of 6,000 meals per week and taken in donations including a truckload of potatoes and 220,000 items of clothing.
Ms Hales, Programme Manager at the bank’s Change Centre of Excellence, has been awarded a British Empire Medal for extraordinary service to the community.
The distribution centre partnered with the Edinburgh Evening News and The Scotsman on the distribution project, as well as the Trussell Trust, Social Bite, Cyrenians, KPMG and Deloitte.
It allowed charities to accept large scale donations of food, hygiene products and clothing to be distributed to vulnerable people in the Central Belt and beyond.
Ms Hales said: “When we first become aware of the full extent of Covid-19 and lockdown measures started coming into place, I think most people looked around at their local community and wondered what they could do to support those who might need some extra help.
“With the staff at our Gogarburn headquarters switching to remote working, it made sense to utilise the space we have on offer here at the conference centre and the idea came about to turn it into a food bank distribution centre – meaning that the worthwhile charities we support would never be in a position where they needed to turn down donations due to logistical concerns around facilitation or storage.
“Through our partner charities, we’ve been able to help a huge number of families across Edinburgh and further afield – something that has only been possible due to the hard work and dedication of our amazing team of volunteers.”
Malcolm Buchanan, RBS Scotland Board Chair, said: “From pioneering the concept of the foodbank to her leadership of the volunteer team, Sheena has worked tirelessly to ensure that our charity partners are able to facilitate each and every donation and we are delighted that her efforts have been recognised in the Queen’s Honours list.”