Fife school's community shop 'makes huge difference' to under-pressure families

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A primary school in Fife has thanked volunteers and donors at an open day for its community shop.

Fair Isle Primary School in Kirkcaldy has operated the facility in recent months to respond to the increased cost of living facing parents, carers and pupils.

It aims to provide them with clothing, cleaning products and food for free or a small donation.

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Donations are managed by staff and parents with supermarkets Asda and Sainsbury’s both involved, alongside Amazon.

Donors, volunteers and members of staff were present at the community shop's open dayDonors, volunteers and members of staff were present at the community shop's open day
Donors, volunteers and members of staff were present at the community shop's open day

Christy Duncan, depute headteacher, said that while those larger operations have “been generous and have a place”, it’s the smaller, local businesses that “can really have an impact”.

K & K Fish Bar and McArthur Butcher were two present at the open day, having donated to the community shop since its introduction.

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Miss Duncan said local business involvement is also an opportunity for the community to develop long term links with them.

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She said: “They’re future employers for our children. When you look at the education system as it is now, you’re looking at developing links with employers. It’s good for the children and the families to know who is out there.

“The generosity of some of the people sitting in there is unparalleled. That gives us amazing links moving forward, for years and years to come. I don’t think you can run an initiative like this effectively without those business partners”.

Miss Duncan said that communication and a degree of trust between the school and those using the community shop is key to the long-term success of the scheme.

She added: “You can’t have the kind of projects you need unless you know your families, because you need to know what they need. You have to do that by being approachable and engaging in dialogue with your families.

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“We’re hugely privileged that our families come in and they are very open with us, they know that they won’t be met with any judgement.

Demand has been high for the service since its launch and like similar projects, Miss Duncan says that the demand is anticipated to increase over the next few months as Christmas rolls round.

She explained: “We are seeing an increase in the uptake just now, and we anticipate by Christmas that will be even more. Now that people realise they can come in, they can access it, that there's nothing to be afraid of - that there's no judgement there.

“Our parent helpers are great at being able to reach out to parents and just having that one on one chat and saying ‘do you want to come in and get some bits and pieces?'”.

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Councillor Carol Lindsay was also present at the open day, and echoed the need to encourage those in need to use the service.

“This is massive and I think we need to break down stigmas. If you’re in need you come along.

Anything they need they can come along to the school, they don’t need to go to a foodbank, they can come to the school where they’re going anyway. It makes a massive difference, I think what we need to do is make sure everyone knows about it.”