HARD AT work in the Unity kitchens, Kirsteen Main and Angus Dingwall are preparing 500 meals a week for vulnerable people in Parkhead.

“It could be elderly folk who have no relatives nearby to get their shopping in, or people who can’t leave the house because they are self-isolating – anyone in need, really,” explains Kirsteen, on a break from chopping onions and peeling potatoes.

“We provide one hot meal a day, and Parkhead Housing Association handles the distribution and provides other support, such as food parcels. It’s been so busy, but we need to get the food out there.”

Kirsteen is service co-ordinator for Unity, a Scottish charity which supports carers of all ages, adults with learning disabilities and those affected by poverty, homelessness and isolation.

In addition to the social enterprise it runs in Glasgow - the Spoon Café – and its Empower Services in Glasgow and Kirkintilloch supporting adults with learning disabilities to develop their skills and increase their independence, Unity has launched the Social Kitchen where people can take part in cooking workshops and classes, creating great food for its ‘Sunday Socials’ community meals.

Before lockdown, it planned to transform two unused green spaces at its projects in Glasgow and Kirkintilloch into sustainable gardens.

“That has been put on hold for the moment, of course, but we will get it up and running after the coronavirus outbreak is over,” says Kirsteen.

Read more: East end project brings a little sunshine into life during lockdown

“The aim is to be able to grow our own vegetables, cook with the fresh produce and support others by sharing our homegrown crops in the Social Kitchen project. It will be absolutely brilliant.”

Bringing people together is the aim of our Streets Ahead campaign, which has been supporting community projects like Unity’s Social Kitchen since we launched in 2011.

Our initiative, backed by Glasgow City Council, City Charitable Trust, CGI and City Building shines a light on the men, women and children working hard to improve their local areas for the benefit of all.

Emma Soanes, Unity’s chief executive, says coronavirus has changed the way charities work within communities.

“As we approached mid-March, we had to start re-thinking how we delivered support and worked with communities as the national guidance about coronavirus began circulating,” she explains.

“At first this was about those most at risk, the need to consider contact with others, and some limitations on activities. By the end of March we were in complete lockdown.

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“We have a workforce of almost 70 people, dispersed across Glasgow and the West of Scotland, mostly in roles that usually work directly with individuals and groups.

“Like many charities, we’ve had to quickly find new ways to be help those who need us. The challenges are new, the situation is changeable and uncertain. But thankfully the creativity, positive attitudes and willingness to help has remained in abundance.”

Read more:Glasgow charity helping people living 'tough lives in a difficult world'

Emma adds: “Life during lockdown has seen more change in a matter of weeks than any of us have ever been used to. Our support service to carers (from primary age children up to very elderly carers) is now being delivered entirely via phone and video chat, with staff who are all based in their own homes.

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“Many carers are isolated now more than ever so our contact is greater than it would usually be, with many people requiring daily contact. Additionally, we are supporting the Health and Social Care Partnership with the coordination and distribution of PPE to those home carers who require it.”

Unity is also delivering workshops, learning groups and social events online to adults with learning disabilities.

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“It means people don’t lose the connections they have spent so long building,” she says.

The charity is supporting the Glasgow Night Shelter for Destitute Asylum Seekers as one of a range of partners providing fresh food to their guests who are temporarily accommodated in a city centre hotel.

“We do this with very small teams who are able to work within distancing rules at all times,” she says. “We are delighted to be able to deliver this support and the team are creating some seriously good grub.”

Emma says the landscape will change considerably for charities and the people they support long after lockdown restrictions have lifted.

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“This is refocusing our plans for the future,” she explains. “Unity after lockdown might look different in a lot of ways. But we’ll still be here, we’ll still be helping however we can and we’ll still be smiling.”

Life in our city may have changed completely but Glaswegians still have plenty of heart.

Now, more than ever, people are pulling together – and Streets Ahead is here to help.

Tell us how your community is responding to life in lockdown – and share your stories of the superheroes helping others in need. Email ann.fotheringham@glasgowtimes.co.uk