Innovative food voucher scheme launched in Montrose to help hard-pressed families

A Montrose firefighter who wanted to help families deal with the cost of living has teamed up with Tesco to provide a new voucher scheme to extend access to affordable food.

Mark Dowie
Friday, 17th June 2022, 3:00pm
Innovative food voucher scheme launched in Montrose to help hard-pressed families

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) Watch Commander Michael Cassie brought local partner agencies together to come up with an alternative option to food banks which often have limited opening hours.

The scheme means that instead of buying items for the food bank collection, shoppers can purchase a voucher at a price they can afford. The voucher is then given to a local charity to redistribute to someone who needs it. Goods can then be paid for with the voucher at the checkout.
The Community Together Partnership at Tesco, Montrose, which launched on Friday, 3 June, is being supported by Angus Council, which has provided a £2,000 grant to get this unique initiative up and running.

Watch Commander Michael Cassie explains why he wanted to make the process easier. He said: “This all started when I was in a supermarket at a weekend and the family in front of me in the queue didn’t have enough money to cover the cost of their food and so I offered to help.

“I wanted to make it easier for people to help others, as well as find a solution for those who can’t make it along to their local food bank during opening hours.”

Councillor Bill Duff of Angus Council said: “I got involved late last year, working with partners and the community to fine tune how the initiative would work.

We know that a significant number of households are experiencing hardship due to rising living costs and this targeted support will help those families most in need. It removes the stigma families who’re struggling to afford food often face while giving them more choice in picking what food they want and need, rather than being restricted by what’s on offer.

“It’s great to see partners and the community working together for such a worthwhile cause and I’m pleased the council could help by providing £2,000 to kick start the scheme. We hope it will be rolled out to other supermarkets in the future.”
Area Commander Scott Gibson, SFRS Local Senior Officer for Perth, Kinross, Angus and Dundee, said: “Improving people’s lives and the safety and wellbeing of the communities we serve is at our core.

"Our role will always be to respond to fires and other emergency incidents but we do so much more than that.

"Collaborative working with our partners is vital and this project, that has been driven by Watch Commander Michael Cassie, is a really positive example of this."
To promote healthy eating, recipe cards for simple and nutritious meals will be given out with the voucher, along with the estimated cost of ingredients.
The user can buy food as well as products like nappies, baby milk powder and pet food. Alcohol and tobacco goods cannot be purchased using these vouchers.

Mary Urquhart from Mandown Project said: "This partnership shows that when everyone pulls together we can make things happen for the better in our community.

"The vouchers will allow people in need to do their own shopping instead of being given items that might not be used."

Mairi Gougeon MSP said: "This new approach will help people who are struggling with their food bills. It’s innovative and inspiring and I commend the work that Michael Cassie, local Cllr Bill Duff, Angus Council and Mary Urquhart of the Mandown Project have done in getting it to this stage.

“The Community Together Partnership at Tesco in Montrose will improve people’s lives but only with the support of the public and I would urge people to look out for the information boards next time they are in the store."

Tannadice Scout Ollie Hay (13) recently completed an epic 13hour mountain bike ride from The Forth Road Bridge to Dundee in order to raise the funds needed for him to attend the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea next year.

Ollie was selected as one of Scotland’s representatives before Christmas but has to raise almost £4,000 for the trip.

The ride covered 85miles (135km) and over 3500ft (1000m) of climbing along the Fife Coastal Path including many sections where the bike had to be carried up and down steep steps. Ollie and his father Ian caught an early train from Dundee to Inverkeithing to start the ride, they did not finish until 10.30 that night.

‘This was really quite an adventure’ says Ollie, ‘although a cold headwind made it very hard work’.

‘Ollie has done really well, both in being selected, and in raising funds so far, but we have a long way to go’. Added Ian ‘Ollie has a stall at the Angus Show on Saturday so please come and say hello.’

The World Scout Jamboree take place every four years and is a fantastic opportunity for young people who are away from home for three weeks.

A film of the adventure will shortly be on Ian’s YouTube Channel ‘ianhaywildlife’

If you would like to donate, please email or contact Tannadice Scouts. Ollie is also looking for companies to sponsor him for future events and challenges.

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