Within a week of lockdown, we were contacted by First Base Food Bank in Dumfries looking for a local outlet as the distribution points, libraries were closed due to the coronavirus. We had just closed the Heart of Galloway Visitors’ Centre, so our dynamic project officer, Sarah-Jayne Allsopp, immediately sprang into action and set up HoG as a food bank.

Now HoG and the newly opened ‘extension’ at the visitors’ information centre in Dalbeattie have distributed hundreds of food parcels all over the Stewartry, thanks to our  hard-working staff, and a dedicated bunch of volunteers. Councillor David James says ” Our charities and community groups are capable of amazing work. The latest shining example has been the way Castle Douglas Development Forum  and  First Base created a well run, and well stocked food bank operation, covering the Stewartry, almost overnight!”

Largely  as a result of the steep learning curve involved in running a food bank and other hardship alleviation activities,  CDDF is now identified by the Scottish Government as a Community Anchor Organisation during this health crisis and DG Council  defines us as the Castle Douglas Resilience Team.

This recognition has resulted in Government and council part-funding the food bank. Wonderfully, we have also received many donations, both large and small, and all count. The Rotary Clubs of Kirkcudbright, Castle Douglas and Dalbeattie support the food bank, as well as local businesses and many individuals. Alongside the food bank we can respond to requests for help with other difficulties, e.g. taxi fares to and from hospital, topping up fuel cards. And two weeks ago, Police Scotland donated 40 bicycles for our Men’s Shed to refurbish.

We’ve also done our bit to keep morale high, by getting out an edition of our free bi-monthly community CD Journal, despite not having our usual volunteer team delivery system. Local shops and community hubs stocked the journal for us.

In the last two months our volunteers have proved themselves resilient and compassionate, and we are confident that we have the capacity and skills  to help our community survive in the coming months too.

(Update provided by Castle Douglas Development Forum)