A COMMUNITY group which provides food to people in need has praised a local hero after he stepped in to offer it a new home.

James Mackie, the owner of Barnhill Farm, near Inchinnan Business Park, has handed vacant office space in his distribution warehouse and the use of two industrial freezers to EBI Unites.

The community pantry project, which supports more than 300 people across Erskine, Bishopton and Inchinnan, launched an appeal to find new premises so it can continue to store and distribute food.

Volunteers have been working out of Bargarran Community Centre but, with groups and businesses who previously used the Erskine space due to return when Covid restrictions are lifted, they were in need of a new base.

James stepped forward after first connecting with EBI Unites project lead Jacqui Reid when the group benefitted from some of the 1,400 boxes of food that his team have donated to families in Renfrewshire.

Jacqui then linked up with Iain Ramsay, executive head chef at the Golden Jubilee Hotel, in Clydebank, who now takes donated produce from Barnhill Farm and turns it into ready meals for her team to distribute.

The offer of new premises is the next stage in this fruitful relationship.

Jacqui told The Gazette: “James very kindly transported all of our tins, packets, bottles and jars. The space has been kitted out with shelving and it looks really good, like a corner store.

“It’s about delivering a more dignified service. We want people to come and pick their own shopping. We don’t want it to be the traditional foodbank model, where you get a bag of shopping.

“Items are colour coded, so you come in with your basket and wander around. The items you take home will be those your child, for example, will eat, rather than just saying to people ‘here’s a bag of food’.”

With the community centre still closed, EBI Unites has retained its Bargarran base to help those who are unable to travel to the new hub in Inchinnan.

When this is no longer possible, the aim is to open satellite drop-in centres on various days at different churches.

Jacqui also hopes to link up with churches with access to transport so that more people can travel to the farm.

She added: “It is a beautiful place to visit. As well as the food storage area, we have an area that is ideal for hosting activity days.

“We are also looking at bringing in some practitioners to offer mindfulness and yoga, so we have a space to be able to deliver that too. It really is a match made in heaven.”