Summerhill Community Centre helps feed Dumfries vulnerable citizens amid cost of living crisis

A community centre in Dumfries is helping older and vulnerable local people during the cost of living crisis by providing affordable food.

It comes as new figures show that around two million British pensioners are currently living in poverty, the highest figure for 10 years.

The Summerhill Centre in Dumfries set up a food pantry last year which gives people access to tinned and cooled items at a much lower cost than a traditional supermarket.

It also creates food parcels and bakes fresh bread for those using its service.

Staff at the centre told ITV Border its work is "vital" in providing healthy food and support to those who need it.

Anyone can use the service, but it is particularly aimed towards older people.

The centre said the demand for the pantry continues to grow.

"Some older people are too proud to admit they need help," says volunteer Margaret Snoxhill, "They don't know where to go, they don't know who to get in touch with.

"But when they see we have an old people's afternoon group so they know that they can come into the pantry and get various things for themselves."

Fresh food is delivered to the Summerhill Centre once a week. Volunteer chefs use this produce to create nutritious meals for people to buy for £1.

Volunteer David Sellers delivers these free home cooked meals to older and vulnerable people that live in the same building as him. He thinks it is vital that those who struggle to leave their homes still have access to healthy food as prices rise.

Mr Sellers said: "During the winter, and particularly in covid we really helped with nutritional meals.

"That was a big help where people just couldn't get out, and it is still the case for some of them".

Chef Martin Edger told ITV Border: "It's helping people eat a bit more healthy. They know they can have a hot meal and feel good about themselves if they are struggling with making ends meet."

Anne-Marie Coulter oversees the Centre's services, and hopes to reduce food poverty in the area by providing access to essential items and clothing in a dignified way.

She said: "I think food brings people together, and in this day and age we have a huge crisis with the cost of living.

"For people to be able to help others - the volunteers coming in, some of them with lived experience of how difficult that can be - It's great that they're coming in and helping others."

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