Trainees team up with Ferguslie Park Housing Association to deliver 5,000th meal

Young people engaged in the employability programme run by the Tannahill Centre in Paisley, and funded via SCVO’s Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) programme have prepared their 5,000th meal for people in Ferguslie Park who are self-isolating or stuck at home due to social distancing measures.

Trainees team up with Ferguslie Park Housing Association to deliver 5,000th meal

The team of trainees

Working in partnership with Ferguslie Park Housing Association, whose employees have been delivering the meals, ensures that those who have been unable to make it out of the house since the pandemic hit are able to enjoy a home cooked and nourishing meal seven days per week.

The project has also ensured that the young trainees at the much-loved community café located in the Tannahill Centre can continue their catering and hospitality training during lockdown.

Christine Hay and Robert Murray, both home improvements assistant at Ferguslie Park Housing Association have been delivering the meals throughout the pandemic. Christine said: “It’s more than just a meal we are delivering. For some of the people we deliver to we might be the only person they speak to that day, some of the people we already know as they are our tenants, however we’ve also been delivering to council tenants too.”

Robert added: “As we’ve gotten to know people and their circumstances, we’ve been able to refer them onto council services or make enquiries on their behalf. We’ve also helped people access our welfare rights service or purchased a microwave, cooker or digital device on their behalf via our Ferguslie Essentials Fund”.

The Tannahill Centre café closed to the public back in March 2020 when the UK government initially announced lockdown measures.

Whilst the café is still closed to the public, thanks to the support from Ferguslie Park Housing Association its learning kitchen was able to re-open, providing local young people with the opportunity to restart their placements, learning how to prepare the meals that are being distributed to local people stuck at home.

Trainees team up with Ferguslie Park Housing Association to deliver 5,000th meal

Wullie Clark, senior cook at the Tannahill Centre community café, said: “It’s a double whammy! As well as providing vulnerable people with a decent meal, the young people are getting back into the workplace, learning how to work in a kitchen and getting a head start when it comes to getting a job in the hospitality industry when things get back to normal. So far we’ve been teaching the young people how to work safely in a kitchen, how to prepare and store meals as well as how to follow social distancing measures. We hope this training means they will be well prepared for the world of work once their placement ends.”

Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) is an employability programme delivered by SCVO which works with voluntary sector employers to create job opportunities for unemployed people aged 16 to 29.

The programme has a focus on those most disadvantaged in the labour market – those who are care experienced or are carers themselves, early Armed Forces service leavers, those with criminal convictions and those who have disabilities or other health issues – and has already created jobs for 9,000 young people across the country.

Moira Cuthbertson, Community Jobs Scotland manager at SCVO, commented: “We’re really proud of our CJS employees and how they have adapted and coped during the restrictions put in place due to the impact of coronavirus. Like all workers across the country, they have had to face huge changes to their workplaces and routines since March.

“Despite this some of these young people quickly returned to their workplaces and have been involved in the massive combined effort of the Scottish voluntary sector in providing vital services to communities, including preparing and delivering food supplies - as the staff at the Tannahill Centre have done. It’s testament to both the tenacity of the organisation and the determination of the young people themselves, and yet another example of how the voluntary sector is Never More Needed.”

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