OUR COVID-19 PANDEMIC EMERGENCY RESPONSE
The Boghall Drop in Centre has been working to help combat the rising food poverty across West Lothian for some time now. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a huge shift in society with people being affected in a wide variety of ways.
- Government enforced lockdown which restricts when you can leave your home.
- New rules and regulations about how to shop.
- Reduced salaries with many working from home or furloughed
- People suddenly facing unemployment as the lockdown resulted in loss of jobs
- Those with underlying health or elderly being asked to stay at home and not leave
- Those experiencing symptoms or terrified or catching it unable to leave home
- Those who prior to this could not afford food
- Long waits for new claims on Universal Credit and people adjusting to a new financial budget
The list of those affected is really everyone. The BDIC has been from the day of lockdown collecting names of those self isolated or people looking for support across West Lothian and ensuring that they have access to emergency food parcels. These parcels are continuing with many new referrals as some peoples situation worsen.
However this is not something our small charity has the funding for. We are looking for help to ensure this vital resource can be sustained. For the duration of this lockdown and beyond to introduce a sustainable food source for those in need.
Another area we are focusing on is creating services to help give some normality to their new routine. We are doing online interactive quiz and bingo nights: they are proving to be really popular. There is plans to start rolling out more of these activities. To help all those people who rely on the BDIC services.
The Boghall Drop in Centre (BDIC) uses a community based approach that focuses on being available to members at the key point throughout their life stages. It is essential that the BDIC is able to provide the appropriate support and guidance when the need is identified within the community: whether by a group or individual. The BDIC provides a wealth of opportunities and support system with no barriers to stop participation. The BDIC is an open, community-run space which has an impact on the users who participate in the services provided. There is no need for a membership to access the services available at the Community Wing: Access is free for all.
As a community organisation it is difficult to fully encapsulate the activities or lay them out in a list format. There can be no limit placed on creating new services as it is impossible to forecast every need that may be identified.
It's the Little Things
The BDIC started way back in May 2004. A converted shop became a safe community hub. Over the year we have changed in so many ways: we have become like a chameleon trying to best suit the needs of those around us. As we have grown we have expanded to work with anyone in the West Lothian area. Some towns do not have services similar to ours and its important that when we are helping people its not restricted by someone's post code.
Volunteering to Success
We have always had a volunteer programme where local people were encouraged to come along and help deliver services or learn new skills. Our Charity Coordinator started volunteering with the BDIC when it opened in May 2004. When she joined she was a young mother looking to gain some work experience to apply to further her education. Through volunteering and then later employment she was able to expand on her skills and grow with the organisation. Her story is not unique as our Engagement Officer who works directly with young people and youths used to volunteer in 2004 and even helped form the organisation back when it was just an idea. He returned in 2019 and volunteered until he recently joined the team as a part time engagement officer. The staff want the BDIC to flourish so are willing to dedicate time to achieve our goals. This is true of many of the volunteers who volunteer as many hours as a full time staff member.
The BDIC inspires passion in those who work, volunteer and use the Community Wing. Being able to have access to help, to guidance or to take part in opportunities is important to the volunteers and people who use the services the BDIC deliver: whether they are helping deliver the services or accessing them.
Our volunteer programme is important; it allows training and work experience opportunities and it helps give us vital feedback which allows us to constantly review our services. We encourage volunteers from the age of 14 years old and even have a volunteer apprentice programme which encourages children from the age of 12 to volunteer. The apprentice programme was designed to honour the huge community impact of a Head teacher who retired last year.
Services that make a real impact
An example of how our community led organisation works is the recent work we have been focusing on to combat the increasing food poverty that is affecting people in West Lothian. To help people we have been focusing on working in partnership with agencies like fareshare and neighbourly which are designed to help distribute surplus supermarket food to those in need. No referrals needed just a genuine need for food and support. Local business' are now gifting supplies to help combat food poverty: business like Ford‘s Bakery who give away free bakery items each week .
Where these do help it doesn't address the biggest challenge facing the BDIC right now which is securing funding to keep our services staffed.
Services for all ages, for all backgrounds
The BDIC offers a safe non judgemental approach and welcomes everyone to use our services. We deliver some services to match any identified need in the community such as youth clubs, cooking classes and parent & child clubs. Our clubs work to match the needs of those in the service. For example our cooking class works with children to teach independent cooking skills. Taking random ingredients to create meals for a family. This teaches creativity and will lessen any fear if the users experience food poverty as they have learn skills to think of food in different ways.
Free Services for all
The BDIC offers many free services and activities for both adults and children. Examples of these would be our Guising Halloween Evening for all those trick or treating and our annual free Breakfast with Santa. Open to anyone across West Lothian.
The BDIC delivers free meals and social gatherings for anyone over the age of 50 years old four times a year. At Christmas we had 69 local people attending a 3 course meal. This Easter we will open our doors to anyone who wishes to attend again. It’s a fabulous event all delivered by our volunteers.
Our future replies on you
If successful this funding will help ensure the sustainability of the services we currently deliver. It will also allow us to design and create new services to match any new needs that arise.
Funding for small charities like ours is very difficult to secure. The work our charities delivers is so diverse that we can not always say the many ways that the funding will be used as the need varies from person to person and we are always changing to meet new needs.
This funding will be used to ensure the BDIC is available and can create new services and maintain the existing ones. Our staff, our volunteers and directors are all passionate but we need funding to maintain staff so services are sustainable. The volunteers and directors regularly hold fundraising events like pop up shops which raise money but also helps increase access to pre-loved clothing to help people who are experiencing financial difficulties.
The BDIC are working on an extremely small budget that would pay just one managers full time wage in most sectors : however it allows us to run a wide variety of weekly clubs, activities, seasonal events and daily food support. Check out our social media. See everything we do and please vote for us!