As this is my first column of 2022, I’d like to start by wishing everyone a Happy New Year and hope that this year brings many new returns to normality as far and as safely as possible.  

I want to kick off this new year by highlighting the valuable work of a fantastic organisation, the Courtyard Pantry.

The Courtyard Pantry is a community cafe, kitchen and food pantry operated by mental health charity Flourish House in the PossilPark area.

Opened in 2016 in a partnership with Queens Cross Housing Association, the Pantry received initial funding from Glasgow City Council’s Town and Centre Action Plan.

The funding allowed the project to adapt its space, invest in refrigeration equipment and incorporate the food pantry. 

What followed was a complete redesign of the WesterCommon Drive premises, using wood, which came from a local social enterprise and bringing the place to life with colourful murals throughout.

The success of the project is down to the hard work of all involved and the willingness of organisations across the Canal Ward to work together for the good of the community.

That partnership approach across this city is still very much a work in progress. But it’s something we’re clearly seeing the benefits of more and more and as a local councillor it’s an approach I’ll continue to nurture and champion.

Like many organisations across the city, the pantry has adapted to keep up with the demands and needs of the local community during the pandemic.

During the first lockdown, the team at The Pantry were on the frontline of addressing the serious challenges and hardships experienced by local people, some of whom struggled to provide even basic food for their families.

Glasgow Times:

Canal Ward colleague Cllr Allan Gow, Dale Todd Coordinator Courtyard Pantry

We saw first-hand how those already contending with decade’s of Tory austerity, surviving on low incomes or Universal Credit changes now had to experience food insecurity and the fear, loneliness and isolation which comes with shielding.

Instead of pulling down the shutters during that difficult period, the team at the Pantry changed their operating model and adapted their services to meet the needs of the local community.  

As a result, the Courtyard Pantry WesterCommon was established in March 2021 and has joined several similar operations throughout the city as part of the Scottish Pantry Network.

The Pantry networks are a lifeline and are a vital resource in my ward which has historically high levels of deprivation. They operate on a straightforward membership model which is very easy to join.

Glasgow Times:

A simple membership form and £1 is all you need. Open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 10am and 3pm, each time a member visits the pantry they pay £2.50 and in exchange can choose around 10 items of food or household items.

Thanks to their partnership with Fareshare Glasgow, The Pantry stocks its shelves with branded chilled and frozen food, fresh fruit and vegetables and canned goods, along with personal hygiene items, including sanitary products.  

As well as operating as a café, staff prepare and distribute food as part of Glasgow City Council’s Children’s Holiday Food Programme, a vital service across my ward and something I am very proud of that this SNP administration delivered with our first ever city budget back in 2018.

Practical politics with positive results and addressing a need in action.

The volunteers at The Pantry understand the struggles than many within our community face in our everyday lives. 

They’re always there to listen too, if you want a quiet chat or a coffee. Or it can be somewhere to just pop in, kick back and enjoy some you-time.

The Pantry currently has around 950 members and has distributed over 25 tonnes of food –the equivalent of around 59,000 ‘meals’ I’m told.

That’s pretty impressive going. I’m genuinely in awe of their work.

And now, thanks to funding from Queens Cross Housing, The Pantry will be bringing back their very popular ‘Friday Night Takeaway’.  

This week The Pantry received their Electric Cargo Bike which was bought after securing funds from the City Council’s Canal Area Partnership. 

Glasgow Times:

This will enable them to expand their food delivery network and pick-up service in our local area. I’m so proud of the strides we’re taking across the Canal ward in addressing our challenges.

Our SNP administration knows that those who know local challenges best are those who live and work there every day. And that’s why we’re committed to nurturing and resourcing more organisations like The Pantry.