What we have been up to and how Vegware funding has helped us.

We are a charity based in south-west Glasgow offering community groups and advocacy services for people who have travelled to this country in seek of asylum. We support people practically by offering a weekly fresh food distribution, weekly support groups for adults and children and coordinated volunteering and learning opportunities for people who have been affected by the asylum process.

Since having more dedicated staff time, the Food Distribution project has gone from strength to strength. When we last applied to the Vegware Community Fund, we were operating the Food Distribution service from a small, cramped storage room which was far less than ideal. We now have access to a space which is much larger and has transformed how the project is delivered. We are now able to welcome service users into the space to collect their parcel and choose any extra items they’d like to take, offering a welcoming environment and a more dignified experience. We now have robust processes in place which mean we can uphold high food hygiene and health and safety standards.

The biggest achievement over the past 12 months has been that we have increased the number of food parcels we distribute each week. When we last applied, we were distributing 30-35 parcels a week and each of these parcels contained the same amount of food, irrespective of the size of the family. We are now distribute an average of 40 parcels a week, with different sizes of parcels available for single, small family and large family households. With new monitoring procedures in place, we now know that we’ve supported 669 beneficiaries since last applying to the Vegware Community Fund.

Funding from Vegware Community Fund has meant that we are able to offer volunteering opportunities through this project for people who are in the asylum process, and who themselves experience food insecurity. Receiving just £37.75 a week from the Home Office, the cost of public transport in Glasgow (which has now risen to £4.70 for a return ticket) is a major barrier for asylum seekers. Volunteering is a great way to become an active member of the community, to reduce social isolation and improve wellbeing. The offer of travel expenses for volunteering has a huge impact on the lives of asylum seekers.

We were lucky enough to be able to take part in the Dignity in Practice programme last year, a practice development programme which allowed us to reflect on how our project is delivered, and how we can improve things to ensure that human dignity is promoted and supported in everything we do. We are very excited to develop our project further to offer a more dignified experience to volunteers and community members struggling with food insecurity. The challenge remains, however, that with limited funds and limited staff time, many of our plans (training for volunteers, consultation sessions with service users, better practices around food waste and environmental impact) are currently beyond our reach.