Updated: Nov 12, 2021
“The idea for a local food provision service … well, it sort of snowballed!” says Caroline Brown – Tiggy to those who know her.
“Back in March 2020, when we were just going into lockdown, a local head teacher phoned to ask me if I could source some devices for pupils who did not have a computer or laptop at home. We were entering a period where children would need to be home-schooled, and those without such a device at home would be at a disadvantage.”
Tiggy, who is known locally as a community champion, someone who doesn’t hesitate to get involved when there is a local need or issue, met the challenge and was able to source and distribute a number of new and used devices.
After this, another local head teacher phoned her, asking if she could organise help for three families over the Easter holidays. “With the schools closed,” she says, “children who would normally receive a free lunch would go without this provision.” Juniper Green Village Hall contributed a generous £500 to meet this need, which meant those families received food deliveries over the holidays and there was some money left over too. We went from helping three families from one school to where we are now – helping 30 families from five different schools.”
And so Community for Food was born. Its mission: no child in a local school will go hungry. “We are not a food bank,” says Tiggy. “We are a food provision service – we provide a family’s weekly shop direct to their door. At the moment we help families from Balerno and Currie High Schools, Nether Currie Primary, Currie Primary and Juniper Green Primary. Nearly 1,400 deliveries have been made in the past 11 months to those combating food poverty.”
Families fill in a form as to what they need, which cuts down on waste. And because they receive a delivery, those who can’t drive to a foodbank, or don’t feel comfortable going to one, can receive help. “The community has really had its eyes opened to the need,” Tiggy comments. “And because of this, other businesses and organisations have begun to reach out to disadvantaged families in other ways.”
The community has really had its eyes opened to the need
Tiggy and her team all work and/or have other responsibilities. She is a business analyst for ACCA; Marna Brown is a GP; and Val Reid is Marketing and Events Officer for the Balerno Village Trust. Together with a number of other volunteers, they meet on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings (6.15-7.30 pm) at the Juniper Green Village Hall. A small team does picking and packing, while another team delivers the food. “We are always looking for more volunteers,” says Tiggy. “We need more people for both of these jobs, as well as someone to build our website and others for various roles. We have several student volunteers who are working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Award.”
So many people and businesses have donated money or food. Morrisons makes food donations every second week. Both the Rotary Club and the Currie Football Club have volunteered, as a way of giving back to the community, and donations have been received from Arnold Clark, Baillie Gifford and others. Balerno’s larger Scotmid store and Currie Scotmid have food collection bins, and any gifts will be divided between Community for Food and local foodbanks.
“We buy in fresh fruit and vegetables weekly, from total produce wholesalers,” says Tiggy. “But we welcome donations of non-perishable food – like rice, pasta, cereal and tinned goods – as well as toiletries and cleaning products. And we are happy to receive monetary donations via Paypal or direct debit. We very much operate on a month-by-month basis, which is one reason we are looking into becoming a registered charity.”
Recently Tiggy was nominated by Sue Webber MSP for a Local Hero award at the Scottish Parliament. “Tiggy is a force to be reckoned with across Currie, Juniper Green and Balerno,” she comments. “I think if there was ever an example of someone who steps up to the plate when needed, no matter what … it is Caroline Brown.”
“No community project is successful due to one person alone,” says Tiggy. “It is the hardworking volunteers who drive projects forward. This makes a huge difference and motivates us all to strive and continue in our collective community goals.”
Donation drop-off points
McGill’s Butchers and Bakers, Currie; Gibson Craig Hall, Currie; Juniper Green Village Hall, Tues and Weds, 6.15 – 7.30 pm; Scotmid, Currie and Balerno (larger store). For more information go to the Community for Food Facebook page, or contact Tiggy at email@example.com
Article published in Konect November 2021
Author: Suzanne Green