The parliamentary summer recess is always a good time to catch up with visits to local groups, projects and businesses.
Last week I visited East Lothian Foodbank to catch up on its latest developments and offer a helping hand with preparing for some of its deliveries. Demand for foodbank parcels continues to grow, with the fallout after the pandemic and the growing cost of living crisis driving more families than ever into hardship.
The foodbank does amazing work providing its essential lifeline service to local people in crisis, but it cannot expand its service indefinitely. Indeed, one of the things they reported is that while its supporters are still donating in huge volumes, demand currently far outweighs what is being donated.
This is not sustainable in the long term and underlines the urgent need for governments at all levels to do more to relieve the impact of the current crisis and support families through it. However, in the short term I would urge anyone who is able to do so to consider donating food or money to the foodbank to help it maintain its vital work.
I also visited the summer lunch clubs in Tranent and Prestonpans, which do such a wonderful job helping local families during the summer holiday. Their services are also in greater demand than ever before and I cannot praise the staff and volunteers highly enough for the important difference they make.
Finally, one tragic development here this summer has been the devastating impact of avian flu on local seabird populations, including the world’s largest northern gannet colony on the Bass Rock. I pay tribute to the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick for its rapid response to the crisis, but the reaction from government agencies could have been quicker. It is important that local people and visitors continue to follow public health advice on avian flu, especially not touching sick or dead birds.