A north-east charity had to refuse free game meat from estates to give to those in need this winter, after it received backlash from people who disagree with where it comes from.
The Game for Giving project, originally set up in 2016 by the Angus Glens and Grampian moorland groups, has fed more than 1,500 families.
This year the initiative is being expanded across the country via the Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups organisation.
The scheme offers free donations of food from estates like grouse and venison to struggling families, the homeless, care homes and other vulnerable people.
But this year one north-east charity – which does not wish to be named for fear of further reprisals – said it was unable to accept donations of fresh game meat for the people in dire circumstances it supports.
The group said its previous involvement with the Game for Giving project resulted in a number of angry messages and as a result it had to decline free venison sausages, mince and stewing meat from an estate offered by Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside councillor Geva Blackett as part of her annual Christmas initiatives.
Mrs Blackett said: “I just cannot believe the utter selfishness of those with a political agenda against estates – game is known to be low in fat and extremely healthy and yet a charity has been frightened off from accepting this meat, which is freely donated, properly butchered and easy to cook.
“I will not be deterred from helping.”
Mrs Blackett has previously run similar initiatives in previous years, such as pot luck lunches which provided free two-course meals in community settings around Deeside, using game meat from Balmoral and Invercauld Estates, together with vegetables from Balmoral and leftover food from Tesco.
The councillor said she would still be keen to help families in need with donations and anyone wishing to get a hold of food parcels of game from her can get in touch directly.
Mrs Blackett added: “Clearly we can’t do pot luck lunches this year because of the virus restrictions but sadly many people have lost their jobs or had their income severely cut because the hospitality and tourism industry has been so badly curtailed.
“I am working with the Ballater & Crathie hardship fund and others across the ward to ensure that as many people as possible can benefit from a little easing of the pressures we all face at this time of year.”
Lianne MacLennan, national coordinator of the Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups organisation, said: “Our group members are delighted to see the game being appreciated by people and to support vital homeless, family and community causes at this time of year.
“Unfortunately those with an agenda against driven grouse moors took it upon themselves to target not only the charities we have worked with but the local businesses that helped us to make Game for Giving a success.
“The result of this has meant they have been subject to unnecessary abuse, complaints, bad reviews on their pages and ultimately charities feared to accept genuine good will, leaving families who made the decision themselves to accept our donations, to go without healthy and sustainable meals.”