VOLUNTEERS from the Food Train initiative across Stirling and Clackmannanshire are in the midst of their busiest-ever Christmas.

Shoppers and delivery teams supporting older people across the regions are now making around 650 home deliveries every month, compared to 400 this time last year.

That sharp spike in demand comes amid a year when Food Train's services have never been needed more due to the consequences of Covid-19.

And the volunteers playing their part to ensure older people across Stirling and Clackmannanshire can eat well and live well in their own homes.

Stuart Miller, Food Train regional manager for Stirling and Clackmannanshire, said: "I can't thank our volunteers enough.

"The way they've responded to the demands we've faced this year has been tremendous – and they've made a significant difference to the lives of older people in our region by ensuring they have not gone without essential shopping supplies.

"The need for our work is, of course, there all-year round. But, it's nice to know that we're doing our bit to help during the festive season, especially when it's likely that more older people than ever will spend Christmas Day in their own homes this year, given the circumstances."

Food Train provides vital support to help over-65s who are unable to manage independently, allowing them to eat well and live well in their own homes.

Nationally, it is also the charity's busiest Christmas on record, teams across the nine regions in which it operates making 5,000 home deliveries every month – up from 3,400 this time last year.

Demand for services at the peak of the pandemic rose by 70 per cent across the country as huge numbers of older people began shielding at home to protect themselves.

Michelle Carruthers, Food Train chief executive, added: "So many of the older people who turned to us as coronavirus took hold in our communities have stayed.

"That's partly down to the fact that they have come to enjoy having their shopping delivered directly to their homes and the social contact they have with our volunteers along the way.

"But, for a great many older people, the simple fact is that they still don't feel safe going into shops and want to feel more confident before they return for themselves, which everyone can empathise with. We're continuing to work really hard to meet that demand."

To find out more about volunteering with Food Train, call 01786 450536 or go to www.thefoodtrain.co.uk/volunteer