Health and Social Care
All Aboard the Food Train
Working as a Policy Manager in the Adult Social Care Policy team I hear of so many stories about what is going on locally which is making such a difference to people’s lives. One of the many organisations doing so is the Food Train and when I was given the opportunity to see first-hand how the service worked and the difference it makes in local communities, especially for our most vulnerable, I jumped at the chance!
Food Train is a national charity which provides a vital food shopping and delivery service to anyone who is over 65 years of age and who is struggling to do their own shopping due to ill health, frailty, poor mobility etc. This year they are celebrating their 20th Birthday. I visited the Glasgow area which currently has 216 active customers alone.
They have a team of volunteers, all checked by the Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme, who either call or visit customers on a Monday and help them to put together a shopping list of what they need. This often involves them checking the fridge, freezer or cupboards to ensure they are ordering the supplies which are needed and not stockpiling. They do the shopping on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then the shopping is delivered on the same day. Their volunteers will help customers to put their shopping away if necessary. Customers can use the service on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis (or less frequently to suit their needs) – it’s all about what is right for the person.
I met about 10 volunteers and got to be part of the whole process – from picking the shopping to putting it away in customers cupboards.
The service is an invaluable support to older people at home. Not only do they do their shopping, bring it in and put it away, if needed they have a chat and do odd bits and bobs in the house where it’s needed. The day I visited I was a shopper, post woman, avid listener and cat charmer! It was an incredibly rewarding experience. I visited 8 people’s homes and they all chatted away and told me about their experiences of home care, how they rely on Food Train and interrogated me on what I do in the Scottish Government and what I could be doing for them – as they should! All round an exhausting days’ work but such an invaluable experience. The commitment and passion from volunteers is phenomenal and meeting customers was a delight.
One customer (Florence McGregor, 80) was recently quoted as saying;
“Food Train has really helped me, and I daresay a lot of people, too. I phone them up on Monday, tell them whatever I want and it’s with me on Wednesday. I know the drivers well and they’re a friendly lot. They always introduce themselves and stop for a chat while they pack away my shopping. It might sound small to some people, but it makes all the difference to me.”
The Food Train makes a huge difference to the lives of some of Scotland’s most vulnerable older people and combats issues such as malnutrition and social isolation. Thanks for having me Food Train.
To find out more information on the Food Train you can visit their website.