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Aberdeen foodbank overwhelmed by ‘phenomenal’ public donations to help keep doors open

Tilly Community Flat organiser 'brought to tears' by generosity after flood of support.

Fiona Young with foodbank donations
Fiona Young from Tilly Community Flat with some of the donations delivered since the appeal was shared. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.

An Aberdeen foodbank have been “overwhelmed” by the response from the public after announcing they may have to close their doors.

Tilly Community Flat shared an appeal on social media yesterday to say they have “run out of funds” to keep the foodbank facility going.

The Tillydrone-based charity has been forced to spend more and more of its core funding on food as prices continue to rise.

Over the past 24 hours, members of the public, city businesses and local shops have all responded by making “phenomenal” donations.

Fiona Young, community development worker, said: “Yesterday, it got to the point where we realised we’d have to close because we can’t sustain this.

“We don’t like to ask for too much but the response to the appeal has been overwhelming.

Volunteers stocking shelves at Tilly Community Flat foodbank in Aberdeen.
Volunteers are now able to restock the foodbank shelves. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.

“I’m quite emotional – I kept checking the PayPal account and messages coming in and there were just tears. I have no idea how we can thank all the people who have supported us.

“I don’t have the words – it’s so heartwarming.”

‘The perfect storm’

The cost-of-living crisis has resulted in more people requiring support from the foodbank and a decrease in donations because people cannot afford to buy more food.

“All of us, no matter how much you earn, are feeling the squeeze at the moment with the increase in food prices,” Fiona added.

Fiona Young holding food donations at the Aberdeen foodbank.
Fiona Young said she was “emotional” at the response from the public. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.

“Many here don’t have easy access to a large supermarket. So, you’re paying a premium for local shops or paying for the bus fare to get to the supermarket – that could be a quarter of your weekly food budget.

“More of our budget is going on food and people who want to donate are already spending more on their own.

“It’s the perfect storm which is affecting lots of people.”

Many people ‘unable to cope’

Tilly Community Flat has provided financial advice, adult learning opportunities and a community space in the area for the past 12 years.

Last year, its two staff members and volunteers supported 6,400 service users from babies to pensioners.

Fiona noticed a big change in the community support required when Universal Credit was introduced, which further escalated when the pandemic hit a few years later.

Volunteers at Tilly Community Flat
Two members of staff and a group of volunteers keep the charity running. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.

“In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have foodbanks,” she said. “Everyone should be able to go out and buy food. But, unfortunately foodbanks have become normalised.

“Before the pandemic we used to keep a few tins under the kitchen sink for emergencies.

“That has gradually grown and grown into an unbelievably busy foodbank.

Tillydrone is one of the areas that has the most poverty in the city, many people are unable to cope.”

Securing the future of Tilly Community Flat

Core funding for Tilly Community Flat comes from the Fairer Aberdeen Fund with further support from Cfine and Fareshare.

In 2023, the charity provided more than 2,000 emergency food parcels.

This figure is expected to double this year.

Fiona Young at Tilly Community Flat
Local residents and businesses have visited the foodbank to deliver donations this morning. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.

Fiona and the team hope spreading awareness of their work will ultimately help keep the foodbank open.

“What we have had in today is beyond tremendous – it is unprecedented,” she added. “The kindness that has been shown over the last day has been overwhelming. We’ve never even had a response like this at Christmas.

“Hopefully, we can secure more core funding to move forward.”