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By Newsdesk
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New hq home for charity

THE Food Train is to transform a former council building into the charity’s first purpose-created headquarters and community hub.

Its leaders have realised a 26-year ambition by acquiring a Dumfries town centre site which will play a major part in its work to improve the lives of older people.

Plans are now being drawn up for the conversion of the former Dumfries and Galloway Council office building – opposite the authority’s chambers on English Street – with work underway on the fundraising that will make it possible.

While Dumfries-founded Food Train has rented a number of offices in the town – in Irish Street, Nith Place, Castle Street and its current base on the Crichton estate – English Street will be the first time it has owned its home.

Food Train has secured the site with the support of Dumfries and Galloway Council. It hopes the building will be ready to move into at some point in 2022.

Creating a centre for older people was one of the ambitions of the award-winning charity’s founder, the late Jean Mundell MBE, when she and her determined supporters launched it with a shopping delivery service in 1995.

Food Train chief executive Michelle Carruthers said: “It’s an amazing feeling to have a permanent home for Food Train in the town. We are really grateful for the support of Dumfries and Galloway Council.

“This is the vision that Jean had when she started Food Train – a place that older people could call home in the town, where they could come not just for information and support, but to meet up or simply somewhere to call in for a cuppa and a rest.

“Over the last 26 years, the generosity of local people has helped us save the funds to buy the building. We are so excited about what the future holds here.”

Once open, plans are for the centre to be a hub for advice and activities for older people, as well as a venue for Food Train’s befriending groups, widely recognised for their valuable role in tackling loneliness among older people.

Following its refurbishment, the building – remembered locally by some as the former Ellangowan Hotel – will also provide office and meeting space for community groups and other organisations.

Wishing them well, council leader Elaine Murray said: “I’m delighted that Food Train now has a permanent base and I wish them well. I’ve seen first-hand the wonderful work that they do to make life easier for people, providing vital services for those who aren’t able to do their own food shopping through age, ill health, frailty or disability.”

As well as being the central hub for its work in Dumfries and Galloway – with branches in Annandale and Eskdale, Nithsdale, Stewartry, Newton Stewart and Stranraer – the new HQ will also provide support for its shopping service operations in eight other Scottish local authority regions.

To find out about how Food Train could help you or someone you know, email [email protected] or call 0800 3047924. To register as a volunteer, go to www.thefoodtrain.co.uk.

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