Unsurprisingly, the last six or seven months have seen dramatic change in our services at Govan Community Project, with groups that once met weekly sharing a pot of food now meeting in square boxes on a Zoom call, English classes being taught on tablets and mobile phones, and complex asylum issues being discussed by phone with the aid of a remote interpreter.  It has been a difficult time for everyone, but it has also meant new challenges for asylum seekers, many of whom were already in a vulnerable and precarious position before Covid-19.

We are very grateful to Vegware for their continued support with our food distribution project. Prior to the onset of coronavirus, we were distributing 40 parcels a week of varying sizes for single people, small families and large families. We do this through a mix of food donations and surplus food collected from supermarkets. The Vegware grant has allowed us to pay the expenses of a volunteer drivers to collect food from 4 different locations and bring it to our premises where our volunteer team assembles the parcels for distribution. Having resources to pay our drivers’ expenses means that we have the flexibility to collect from several locations, which in turn means we can offer our community members a wide selection of food including fresh vegetables and baked goods. We are also now in discussions with a local charity about piloting cargo bikes for our food collections.

During the lockdown period, our normal service was suspended as our office buildings were closed to prevent spread of the virus. We then delivered food parcels to our most vulnerable community members in partnership with local bike charity ‘Bike for Good’. We also provided supermarket vouchers to our community members so they could get food and essential items they most needed during the lockdown.

The Vegware support also allows us to provide our volunteering opportunities for people in the asylum system. Throughout lockdown, we have continued to support our volunteers through keeping regular contact with them as well as supporting their personal development through providing food hygiene training and Covid safety training.

Prior to the change in service, we had secured funding to run a community kitchen session and meal alongside our food distribution, which we hope to resume work on once we have full access to the building.

In spite of all the challenges, we know that our strong sense of community is what makes our organisation work, and we have endeavoured to keep this throughout the Covid restrictions. We are glad that our community members are still able to support one another, whether that be with a supermarket voucher, a kind chat, or a laugh on Zoom, to help us all get through this strange and difficult time.