THE Vine Centre in Dunfermline, who provided more than 100 people a day with a free meal during the pandemic, has been praised for it’s incredible work in a new report on the work of the church across Scotland during lockdown.

The ‘Free Meals Dunfermline’ service has been described as a “life-saver” by those who were supported by the scheme.

One of those who were impacted by the kindness of the church was a single-parent family, where the eldest child, a 10-year-old girl, is the main carer of the mum.

The mum-of-two, who has a brain injury, was struggling to provide a well-balanced meal for her children as they would normally receive this when they were at school each day.

Rebecca Mellon, a support worker for Fife Young Carers, contacted the Vine knowing that the free meal service would alleviate any worries the mum was having.

She told the Press: “Without this service, this family would have been living on beans on toast and sandwiches so it’s been a lifesaver for them. It couldn’t have come at a better time, knowing their meals were taken care of.

“In these situations, it’s the young person doing the cooking so lockdown made a massive impact on young carers.

“People can’t believe that 10-year-olds are having to do this and with that extra responsibility during lockdown it’s been very hard for them and many have not been able to get their schoolwork done.

“So what the Vine have done has been fantastic.”

When lockdown began, the Vine Church saw a need in the community to create a project that would provide 100 meals a day, seven days a week, ensuring that no-one would have to go without a square meal every day.

They gathered a group of 25 volunteers from both the church and the wider community, who gave their time to enable the project to thrive throughout lockdown, and over 28 weeks provided 10,000 meals.

The church received referrals from various community groups in the local area, as well as from headteachers, social workers, the local addiction service, criminal justice and social work units and various youth projects.

The project has been included in a Stories of Hope report, requested by the Scottish Government and produced by the Evangelical Alliance and Serve Scotland, which calculated that churches across Scotland had delivered 212,214 acts of support during lockdown.

A pensioner with breast cancer and no family around was also supported by the ‘Free Meals’ service.

Her sister, who wishes to stay anonymous, found enormous peace knowing that she was being provided a hot meal every day.

She said: “My sister has no relatives around her and obviously I couldn’t get to her when I live on the other side of the country.

“Because of the concern for her health, she just wanted to stay in and the Vine took that stress of thinking about food away from her.

“Not only that, it helped her not being so isolated as well as she looked forward to seeing the person who was delivering the meal every day. And I knew someone was checking on her so that gave me peace of mind.

“She’s not a member of the church but she never felt any pressure to join – without a doubt they have been a lifesaver. You wonder what people would have done without them?!”

Pastor Aaron Dowds said: “It was a great experience and we’ve had great feedback from those who needed it.

“We’re just taking a pause right now to reflect on what we’ll do going forward.

“It’s great to see all the work the Church has been doing to help Scotland, I think this is what we should be doing and doing what’s relevant.

“So many churches have redistributed their time and services this year to help. It’s great that their collaboration with local authorities and the Scottish Government is seeing the Church as an essential player in the pandemic.”