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Kirkhill community's COVID-19 response

Supporting Communities Fund award for Kirkhill and Beauly

Community Cupboard

Regularly at the heart of local residents’ lives, the Kirkhill Community Centre in happier times is best known for its activities – scouts, leisure classes, bowling and its Friday community café. However, when the COVID-19 emergency lockdown was introduced, the Community Hall was quick to take on a new role – supporting villagers with supplies and emergency essentials.

With no local shop in the village, local people faced travelling to Beauly or Inverness for basic shopping. The volunteers who run the centre quickly realised that there were many people who couldn’t or wouldn’t want to do this. 

And so the Community Cupboard was born. Starting off in the centre’s small kitchen, the shop which stocks essentials soon grew. Next into the foyer and now it's in the main hall. With no need to travel, careful social distancing measures, and far fewer numbers of shoppers it reduces the level of unnecessary contact.

Community Resilience

The Community Cupboard has been well received by locals, and is a fantastic example of community resilience. 

As well as foodstuffs and other essentials from Tesco FareShare, there are also home-made meals, local eggs and baking. For some of the older residents in particular it has provided a much needed community connection and also a way to help during the crisis. 

"We have some lovely ladies who are baking for the Cupboard, often recycling the donated items including any bashed bananas from FareShare - it makes fab banana bread. One lady has dusted off her juicer and using surplus fruit she is regularly providing fresh juices which the older folks are really enjoying," said Brenda Dunthorne, trustee with the Kirkhill Community Centre.

She added: "The homemade meals in the freezer have also been a real hit with a couple of front-line NHS staff who sometimes just need a quick tasty meal after a long shift." 

Nothing is going to waste. Two freezers were donated to help the group. Any unused perishables are going to local hens and pigs in exchange for fresh produce. Read about the group's recycling efforts here.

Activities continue to grow. The Centre has hooked up with the Safe Hands project so have a hand sanitiser refill station, a woman from Kiltarlity is making face masks for the Cupboard, they've had a donation of kids activity bags from a local business and another of the big hits has been a donation of hand-made cards by a local craft business. 

In addition to the Cupboard, volunteers are also carrying out deliveries of food and medicines, and postcards distributed in the village have kept people up to date on where to find help.

 

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We’ve had amazing local support from people who want to help. Networks are springing up across the area and the Supporting Communities Fund will help us co-ordinate how we get help to all those who need it over the coming days and months.
Brenda Dunthorne, Trustee, Kirkhill Community Centre

Getting help to where it's needed

The Kirkhill Community Centre has secured a £25,000 award from the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund. It will help them extend the COVID-19 response in Kirkhill and support local groups who are delivering emergency help to those in Bunchrew, Clunes, Cabrich, Kiltarlity Kilmorack and Beauly area. There are around 8,000 residents in all.

Wider community support by working together

In addition to their usual support services, care providers Contrast Care based at Inchmore, has come up with a great idea to keep their clients safely connected with their families. Using the Supporting Communities Fund they have ordered five Ipads, which they'll help their clients use to see loved ones.

Additional groups including the local community council and Beauly organisations are also looking at how the funds could help ensure essential supplies are available to those who need them over the coming days and weeks.

 

Find out more about Kirkhill Community Hall's work

The Kirkhill Community Cupboard's opening hours have been extended several times, with the village's mobile Post Office continuing to offer its services on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The Cupboard is taking requests for particular items for local pensioners and trying to get them for them for their next visit.

Find out more here