SCHOOL brunch packs were given out to youngsters throughout Dumbarton and the Vale last week.

West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare ran their programme during the school break, providing each schoolchild with breakfast and lunch for each of the five days kids were off school, as well as bread, cold meat, fruit, yoghurts, diluting juice, biscuits and crisps.

Operating out of their alternating premises' in Alexandria, Dumbarton and Clydebank, the Foodshare is working with a reduced team of staff and volunteers to ensure social distancing and safety but have still ensured that delivery of food parcels is made to those unable to attend distribution centres.

And the group are already looking to their future Christmas appeal.

Clair Coyle, charity manager, told the Reporter: “One hundred bags were distributed on October 8 and 9.

“We are starting to promote our Christmas Appeals this week. Last year we distributed new toys to 940 local children experiencing poverty, with each child receiving a large gift bag with 7-10 new toys to open on Christmas morning.

“For anyone wishing to support the Christmas Appeal, we need new toys and gifts for children up to 17 years old, food and toiletries, and size five and six nappies.

“We are expecting the toy bank to be in higher demand this year due to the rising unemployment figures in the area. This has been an extremely tough year for so many local people finding themselves in situations they had never imagined.”

The Foodbank are currently wrestling with the knock-on effects of the pandemic on local residents’ mental health and wellbeing.

“So many people have had their lives adversely affected by a reduced income or losing their jobs," Clair said, "We are seeing so many people newly claiming Universal Credit who have to wait six weeks for their first payment and people who have never claimed benefits before who do not know how to apply or how to find out what they are entitled too.

“We have partnerships with local organisations who are able to support people with these issues and we refer individuals to agencies such as Citizens Advice Bureau and Working 4U, who offer fantastic support to anyone in need.

“We have seen a drop in the level of food donations we are receiving as various donation points are still closed.

“Our current donation points are Asda Clydebank, Sainsburys Drumchapel, Keystores Clydebank (money donation boxes), Lidl Yoker, Asda Dumbarton, Iceland Alexandria, Coop Alexandria and Coop Balloch.

“Donations can also be dropped off at Unit 21, Leven Valley Enterprise Centre, Castlehill, G82 5BN, Tuesday to Friday, 9am-4pm.

“WD Community Foodshare would like to thank everyone who has donated to the charity over the last year, their kindness has ensured we could provide support to everyone who got in touch with us.”