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Community catering success in Thrumster area

By David G Scott

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RESIDENTS in the Thrumster area are benefiting from a new community catering service to provide meals for elderly and vulnerable people during lockdown.

The service – to homes in the Tannach and District Community Council area – is an initiative by Thrumster Community Development Association (TCDA) after it received funding from the E.ON Camster Community Fund.

TCDA covers an area stretching from Bruan in the south to Milton and Newton Hill in the north and Bilbster in the west of the county, and was only formed as a community organisation in November last year.

After receiving the funding, the association sent letters to every address locally and the catering service began on April 20 with meals prepared and delivered to 15 homes in the community council area.

As of today (Monday) the number of homes registered for catering deliveries has doubled to 30.

The association now has a team of more than 30 volunteers covering the area assisting with shopping, prescription collection and various other tasks.

Local volunteers observe social distancing as they queue outside the Old Smiddy Inn for meals they deliver around homes in the Thrumster area.Picture: Raymond Bremner
Local volunteers observe social distancing as they queue outside the Old Smiddy Inn for meals they deliver around homes in the Thrumster area.Picture: Raymond Bremner

The TCDA chairman, Highland councillor Raymond Bremner, said: “This is something we have worked really hard to put in place over the past few weeks.

"We didn’t have an established community council in place or a local organisation for the elderly and vulnerable where we could start with a known base of contact names who would benefit from the service."

He added that after an emergency meeting at the end of March the association agreed to act on behalf of the community council as part of the resilience programme co-ordinated by Highland Third Sector Interface and led by Caithness Voluntary Group.

Initially, the catering programme will run for four days a week but it is expected that this will increase.

The funding provides meals for those who are isolating or shielding, those who are elderly and those who are in a vulnerable age group or category – the service is open and free to anyone in those categories.

Councillor Bremner said: "Over the past four weeks, we have managed to put in place a number of services for a lot of local folk in the area – including collecting shopping, going to local recycling centres, collecting prescriptions, mowing lawns, providing catering and contacting agencies to alert them to special needs within the community.

Wick and East Caithness councillor Raymond Bremner.Picture: DGS
Wick and East Caithness councillor Raymond Bremner.Picture: DGS

"We have also taken part regularly in the weekly meetings where all the voluntary organisations throughout the county come together to exchange ideas and offer each other support. It’s a fantastic community-led enterprise.”

The programme will last for as long as is required to keep members of the community safe from the potential exposure to coronavirus.

Currently, the catering provides main meals at teatime for three days and a lunchtime provision for a fourth day.

Councillor Bremner added: “We are very grateful to the various funding bodies that are supporting the initiative of our local community development association.

"We have also received micro-grants from E.ON Camster Community Fund and from SSE [Beatrice].

"These micro-grants will be available for individuals and small organisations within the area to provide support for the local resilience programme in the coming weeks."

Anyone wishing to apply for a micro-grant can contact the association through its Facebook page or by emailing thrumstercommunityda@gmail.com

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