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Easter Ross councilllor says she won’t let down the needy during pandemic

Highland councillors Maxine Smith and Pauline Munro helping with food distribution in the Alness and Invergordon.
Highland councillors Maxine Smith and Pauline Munro helping with food distribution in the Alness and Invergordon.

An Easter Ross councillor recovering from Covid says she’ll do what it takes to make sure the needy don’t go hungry in her ward.

Pauline Munro has been heavily involved in the resilience effort since the start of the pandemic, helping set up food banks in Invergordon and Alness, liaising with supermarkets, and delivering food parcels.

But the Invergordon outbreak has taken its toll on her fellow volunteers, and the pool of people available has gone down to two from 10 in Invergordon, and from eight to two in Alness, including Mrs Munro.

Mrs Munro has enlisted more help from fellow councillor Maxine Smith, who has been working in the background throughout to seek funds and deal with administration.

The small group is now working flat out to deliver food to more than 30 isolated elderly and keep the foodbanks stocked for people to pick up supplies.

Mrs Munro and her extended family caught the virus earlier this month.

She said: “Just about everybody I know has had the virus.

“It was strange, I didn’t lose my sense of smell and taste until I was over the worst.

“I had no coughing, but I did have fever and my arms, legs and back were in agony for two days.

“The way it’s multiplying in Invergordon is frightening. Our volunteers either have it, or are self-isolating or  are understandably frightened to come out.”

Highland councillor Pauline Munro getting ready to fill up the food bank in Invergordon. Sandy McCook

Mrs Munro said she was not volunteering under her councillor hat.

“I’m doing this because there are people in need.”

Before Christmas, she organised microwaves and freezers for the vulnerable elderly, so that they can be supplied with seven frozen meals a week, instead of meals every day.

Last week, she was busy securing a gazebo for Alness chip shop to help it serve customers safely.

She worked with Action for Children to set up a second  foodbank  in Invergordon before Christmas because she became aware that people were walking from Milnafua to the town for supplies.

“I thought ‘this isn’t right’.

“The foodbanks can’t open right now so we’re leaving bags of dry goods in the halls so that people can get the keys, pick it up and leave with no-one having any contact.

“At least that way we know that the most vulnerable ones are getting food.

“We are at full capacity, with new referrals coming in, but there is still a service for the most needy.”

In the first lockdown, many local businesses stepped up to keep people fed.

“But they can’t do it any more,” Mrs Munro said. “They simply can’t afford to.”

Mrs Smith praised her colleague for her dedication.

She said: “During Covid Pauline has never stopped.

“Whilst the four of us who represent the Cromarty Firth ward have all worked together, specialising in different aspects in order to help people, Pauline is the one who’s worked at the coal face non-stop, making food deliveries, collecting and organising volunteers who work in the food banks.

“As one of our volunteers put it Pauline is a ‘little pocket rocket’. “She’s dedicated to helping those families in need and does a great deal of work in Milnafua where she’s dedicated to helping the children, along with Action for Children.

“We’re so lucky in our ward to have someone with Pauline’s people skills.

“She’s amazing.”

Mrs Munro said she felt lucky to have so much community support.

“And we’ve had so much support from our local supermarkets, I can’t thank them enough especially June Ross, our community champion in Morrison’s.

“Our community council is also really supportive, and financially we’re OK, with the community raising £6,000 in the first lockdown.

“The people of Alness are phenomenal, I’m proud I live here.”

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