South Scotland MSP Brian Whittle has visited a drop-in event run by East Ayrshire Churches Homelessness Action (EACHa).
The visit was organised through the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office (SCPO) as part of the “Meet Your MSP” project. During the visit Brian spoke with some of the volunteers and service users and heard more about the work of EACHa.
He said: “The team at EACHa are doing a fantastic job. It was great to hear more about their work and I’ve lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament recognising them for their efforts which I hope will get cross party support.
“They are another great example of volunteers working for charities and other organisations in the third sector making a big difference to people’s lives, often in a way that the public sector isn’t set up to do. I’m keen for my colleagues across the parliament to learn more about the work of charities like EACHa and hopefully take the examples of good practice they have and apply them across Scotland.”
East Ayrshire Churches Homelessness Action run a number of projects across East Ayrshire, offering support and advice to people experiencing homelessness or at risk or becoming homeless. Among the projects they run are the “Community Friends” befriending programme and CAN (Cheap and Nutritious) cooking sessions.
Commmunity Friends matches people with trained volunteer befrienders who listen and build their self-confidence, allowing them to become part of the community and build strong, positive relationships. As well as providing friendship and food, the thrice weekly drop-in sessions also give service users access to help and advice ranging from housing to check-ups from opticians. Homelessness nurses, jointly funded by the NHS and local authorities also attend to provide treatment and advice.
At the CAN cooking sessions, service users learn how to cook tasty, affordable, nutritious meals as a better alternative to relying on fast-food and ready meals which are less healthy and often much more expensive.
Brian added: “East Ayrshire Churches Homelessness Action are doing great work on the ground providing real and lasting help to people who need to be thought of as more than just another name in a database. I hope to work with them for many years to come as they continue to change lives.”
East Ayrshire Churches Homelessness Action was formed in 2005 and is made up almost entirely of volunteers, all of whom commit many hours a week to the charity.
A spokesperson for East Ayrshire Churches Homelessness Action said:
“We were pleased to welcome Brian to our Monday drop-in, and glad that he showed such great interest in our work. We will keep him informed of our plans, and look forward to welcoming him back on a future visit.”
A service user added: “The drop-in centre is a safe place to come. Everyone is very approachable, you get free food and it’s always a good atmosphere. You get access to different services, like housing, opticians and health.”