A Dundee man who delivers shopping to local people in need is surviving on toast and going to work to keep warm amid the cost of living crisis.
Food Train volunteer Gary Rae takes groceries and other essentials to people across Dundee four days a week.
He says he loves working for the charity.
But Gary’s own financial situation is so bad that he’s living mostly on bread, and soup and hot drinks provided by Food Train while he’s working at their Kingsway Park depot.
Gary, 54, explains: “I was a full-time carer for my mum for 13 years.
“And when my parents passed away Remploy told me about this role as a delivery assistant for Food Train.
“I’ve been volunteering here since last October.
“I live on my own so I’m glad to get out and help people. I meet people and it gets me out of the house, stops me from getting depressed.”
‘I usually just have toast after work’
Gary lives in a flat in the city centre. But, as he’s on Universal Credit, he has very little money after paying for his heating – sometimes just £10 a week left for food.
“I’m not eating so much because I have to put money on my electric,” he explains. “The cost is sky-high, even with the £66 (government fuel benefit) help.
“I’ve got a wee oil heater and a panel heater but I still really feel the effects of the cold.
“I put the heat on for a couple of hours and then my key meter starts bleeping again the next morning.”
He continues: “I get warmed up when I come back to the Food Train depot. And the people here gave me a big throw so I use that at home.
“I skip meals until I’m hungry. Then it’s usually just toast and butter when I go home.
“I know I’m not eating properly but toast is quick and gets me warmed up.
‘I worry when the meter bleeps’
“I can make stovies or mince and tatties but I’ve not been doing that as much. It’s the thought of putting the cooker on because it runs away with the money for the electric.
“I worry when I hear the bleeping going off telling me the meter is low.”
Despite his own challenges, Gary is happy helping with up to 30 deliveries a day.
He says: “People give us their lists and we do the shopping. Then we take the boxes into their houses for them.
“They’re grateful for the help, we’re a friendly face for them. I’m glad I’m helping them because they wouldn’t manage it themselves.
“And we have a laugh out in the van all day. It makes the days go in quicker.”
Gary is one of around 10-15 volunteers at Food Train.
Their services include shopping, befriending and household support for older people enabling them to live at home independently for as long as they can.
It’s a lifeline for people like 90-year-old Violet Keir from Dundee who lives alone since her husband, son and daughter passed away.
Violet, who is partially-sighted, says Food Train offers good value for money, charging just £5 for a delivery.
“My bones may be done but my marbles are still here,” she laughs. “I’m not able to go out but the Food Train bring in the shopping and sometimes put it away for me too.
“I think they’re very good and £5 is fine. If you had to get a taxi to the shops and back, you’d be about £40.”
- Food Train are looking for more volunteers in Dundee to make a difference to older peoples lives. Call 01382 810944 or email email@example.com
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[Dundee Food Train volunteer is living on toast in cost of living crisis]
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