The director of an Aberdeenshire community larder is to set up a crowdfunding campaign so volunteers can keep providing a vital service.
The Haven, based in Stonehaven’s Market Square, opened as a not-for-profit wellbeing centre in January 2018.
But when the coronavirus pandemic hit, founder Julia Morton transformed the yoga studio into a community larder to help those most vulnerable in the area.
The service gives members of the public access to food and toiletries with no questions asked.
She said: “When Covid-19 became really serious it was bothering me that we were located in the heart of Stonehaven and we had this space which we weren’t using.
“There are two things I am 100% certain of in these very uncertain times: Firstly, that mental health is not going to get any better and, secondly, that food security will continue to be a huge issue.
“In Stonehaven there is a perception that we are a middle-class area and therefore we don’t have food worries, which isn’t true at all.
“We had two food banks working out of the area and I felt that that model was already operating quite well.
“What we wanted to do was to operate a different model. We don’t have any requirements for anyone accessing the larder. You don’t need a referral and you don’t need to give any details.
“We found that a lot of people who were already on a low income or on benefits were already being signposted and seen to by other organisations and we wanted to address people in the community who had perhaps never been in a position where they were experiencing worries around food.”
The Haven saw 425 visitors in its first month as a larder, and a 50% increase in its second month, when volunteers saw 675 people come through its doors.
But volunteers at the community larder need more money to continue its vital work, and plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign to pay for costs.
Julia added: “We’re looking to raise money to enable us to keep our doors open. There is funding for food and funding for PPE and volunteer training, but there is currently no funding available for operational costs such as rent, utility bills and staff costs.
“We have enough money to keep us going until December and we have made the decision to not reopen the yoga studio because we really need to keep the larder operating.”
Details of The Haven’s crowdfunding campaign will be released at a later date.
To find out more about the the community larder, and to find out how to donate, visit www.thehaven.co.uk