Social Justice

'Scandalous': Charity that delivers essential supplies to older people faces closure after funding blow

Food Train Glasgow is set to lose its funding and could be forced to close after a decade of helping older people in the city

Food Train Glasgow has been delivering meals in the city for 10 years. Image: Food Train Glasgow

A charity that has delivered essential shopping supplies to hundreds of older people across Glasgow for 10 years is facing closure with its funding set to be axed.

After supporting Food Train Glasgow’s operations for the past decade, Glasgow City Council said this week that the charity’s application for renewed funding is on a list of bids that members of the City Administration Committee are being recommended to refuse.

The branch’s closure would remove critical support for many over-65s in the region who are already struggling with the cost of living crisis. 

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Food Train Glasgow said that closure will likely take place in March if funding is refused as planned.

Chief executive Michelle Carruthers said: “This is a scandalous recommendation – one which will put significant numbers of older people across Glasgow in danger of becoming malnourished and seriously ill if it’s carried through.

“To recommend pulling the plug completely on our funding has shocked everyone, particularly when keeping older people well at home is such a priority. To close a vital social support service when the NHS and social care are under huge strain makes no sense.”

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Food Train Glasgow, based at Govanhill, delivers shopping and meals to more than 400 people across Glasgow every year. It also provides its members with access to befriending activities, including one-to-one home visits and group outings, as well as a low-level practical support service at home.

At the height of the pandemic, demand increased by 70 per cent. On average, the charity was making 1,000 deliveries of fresh food and groceries per month. And demand has remained high post-Covid. Today, the charity averages 770 deliveries per month. 

Its three-year funding application to Glasgow City Council was for £447,000.

“We know that funding is tight and that difficult decisions need to be made – but how can we rationalise or make economic sense by removing the support systems that would risk worsening lives and piling more pressure on our NHS and social care services at a time when they are already under remarkable strain?” said Food Train chair, Mahdi Hasan, who has volunteered with the Glasgow branch for seven years.

“The reality is that many of the services Food Train provides have filled the gap left by years of cuts in council social care budgets. We provide an essential service which deserves support – not just because it is kinder and morally right but because it makes huge economic sense when viewed in the context of the overall health and social care needs.”

Glasgow City Council is distributing £50million across 235 organisations in the city to help the citizens and communities most in need.

According to Glasgow’s communities lead Cllr Christina Cannon, the 445 applications received this year applied for 64 per cent more money than amount available and there was a 90.4 per cent increase in requests compared to the current year.

“We know that organisations who have not been recommended for grant funding will be disappointed and officers will be offering feedback and meaningful support around capacity building and financial advice on other sources of funding,” she told The Big Issue. 

“Unfortunately we do not have an infinite pot of money and we need to use the resources of the council – especially during these challenging, financial times – and use what we do have in the most supportive and effective way to meet the needs of Glaswegians and our communities.”

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