A charity that works with some of Inverness’ most deprived families has said it will need more help if it is to continue its work.
Since the pandemic Merkinch-based Rokzkool Academy, has been supporting families with food and training.
But as the pandemic subsides, a cost of living crisis has seen a continued need for the support the charity gives to families.
Initially an organisation that delivered music workshops in schools – the pandemic meant that all its workshops had to stop, and it had to quickly diversify.
Co-founders Rod Shannon and Kay Ewen realised many of the Inverness families it had supported before the pandemic still needed help. And they set out to see what they could do.
Mr Shannon said: “Due to Covid all of our workshops came to an abrupt stop. This was a blow for us and for the pupils and schools we work with.
Group to support young people and their families
“Rokzkool Academy was formed out of a need to support young people in Inverness, with a focus on improving quality of life through encouraging engagement in activities including education, food, music, outdoor skills and arts.
“The onset of the pandemic meant the charity had to diversify to be able to react to the plethora of community needs.”
Mr Shannon continued: “In Merkinch we were already working with approximately 20 families who were reliant, but thriving on our support.
“We felt it was crucial to keep connected and supporting these families. While working out of an NHS base we offered not only somewhere safe to come, but there was a breakfast club, cookery lessons, arts and crafts.
“Cookery sessions meant those taking part had a good hot lunch. Because Rokzkool was signed up to Neighbourly and Fareshare we have been able to access food to support families and individuals.
Demand is increasing
“The activities have been well received by children and young people and we have seen an increase in our numbers signing up for outings, music session and training opportunities.”
While working out of the Trinity Church – the charity managed to support many struggling families a – delivering around 800 meals a month.
Yesterday it was revealed Trinity Church may be closed.
Food box deliveries have become part of Rokzkool’s offer and at the height of the pandemic they were delivering to 200 households a month.
Mr Shannon added: ‘This is not something we had ever set out to do and it has come about by the overwhelming unmet need from the area’
Rokzkool is hopes to attract professional fundraising officer, and for more volunteers to come forward.
‘Vital’ work must continue
Ms Ewen said the work is “vital” to continue to support families who are struggling.
The former training and development manager, said: “While Rokzkool will never close while someone is in need, the group is starting to struggle to meet needs with our limited resources
“Our group works with families who want more from life. But struggle to get the support they need to make it to the next stage. That’s where we come in.”
She continued: “We don’t have the right buzz words to use to articulate what we do and the difference it makes.
“We really could do with some expert help – and we are searching for someone to come forward to offer time to write some funding applications and upskill us on how to do them.
“There are so many people who need help – we just can not keep up with demand.”
Offer of help
One offer of help has come from Fiona MacAulay, director of Highland Trauma Services Inverness.
She has dedicated £1500 from her online mental health resiliency course, by working for free. She has already donated £6000 to charity from her work.
Ms MacAulay said: “I am supporting them, because I believe in them. If you have the skills to help them please think about offering your support.”