May Nicholson, our friend and Inspirational Founder of the Preshal Trust, who passed away in hospital on Wednesday 27th March 2019.
First of all, let me begin by saying a huge thank you to all our supporters who have enabled us to continue to function through this unprecedented time. From Trusts and Foundations, Companies, Churches and individuals you have all been amazing and your contribution has been greatly received by the most vulnerable, people who have had to self-isolate and those in social and financial hardship.
As the CEO of The Preshal Trust, I think it is important to let you all know how we are dealing with this pandemic, what our challenges are and some of our success stories. Here in Preshal we have tried to be a lighthouse in our community, a beacon of hope, love, kindness and help in these trying times.
As the outbreak began to develop and gather pace, it became clear we were going to close and reduce contact with people here in Preshal. In true Preshal spirit, we tackled this challenge head on making a plan to reinvent what we do to deal with the current situation. One of our basic human needs is food so we started preparing stovies, soup, sausage roll,s etc and serving this through the front window of Preshal. This was to keep in line with the Government's recommendation to stop social gatherings and non-essential contact whilst still serving a community in need.
In the beginning we fed between 10 to 15 people a day, but as word of mouth spread and the pandemic/lockdown lasted longer our numbers started to go up. We are now serving up to 40 hot meals a day. We also started up our food parcel service to provide food to the over 70s and the vulnerable in our local area. We are also working in partnership with Linthouse Housing Association (LHA) to ensure that between us the most vulnerable and isolated in our community are not overlooked.
The last month or so has presented challenges that no one could have foreseen but in all circumstances, it is about how you react that matters, this is what people remember the most. Who helped them? Who fed them? Who supported them? Especially who showed them love when they needed it. That is what Preshal is all about, making sure that people know that they are precious. This is our main aim and we have established ourselves and supported this community for 20 years and that is what we will continue to do.
Our biggest challenge has been sourcing enough food to prepare our parcels for collection and delivery. As you will all be aware, the supermarkets were low on stock and limits were placed on how much you could buy. We were in a fortunate position as we already had a small stock of food that was kindly donated by churches to help us with our food bank which sustained us in the short term. However, we did not imagine that it would go down so quickly and found ourselves putting out appeals on social media, etc. People responded so generously and brought us over some bags of food that we could then parcel up and send out to the vulnerable. We also received donations of money from Foundation Scotland and the Corra foundation to allow us to go and buy food and as the restrictions lifted we have found it easier to restock our own stock to ensure that we can continue to provide food to those who really need it.
To date we have served over 900 hot meals from our premises and have given away or dropped off over 250 food parcels to the neediest in our community. We have also helped feed over 140 people outwith our local area through our contacts at the Violence Reduction Unit(VRU), making up big pots of soup and sausage rolls. We are also linking in with our local schools to help provide food parcels to the neediest families who are experiencing financial hardship and also providing some sweet treats and arts and craft material for the kids to help make this lock down a bi teasier. We also receive referrals from the Home Office, Social Work, Job Centre, Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector and numerous other agencies.
I want to also express my gratitude to Iain Graham who continues to provide us with the finest meat so we can make our delicious and nutritious homemade meals. Donald and Christine MacDonald also provide fresh vegetables to enable us to make homemade soup to ensure that our clients get a balanced wholesome meal. So far, we have made mince and potatoes, Irish stew, cottage pie, steak pie, chilli con carne on baked potatoes, sausage rolls, steak bakes, macaroni and cheese, a variety of soups and haggis, neeps and tatties.
We have a telephone support service up and running and our staff phone around all our clients to check in, have a chat and see if they need anything. All Preshal incoming calls are diverted to the CEO’s mobile number so we never miss a call and there is support available 24/7.
A member of staff has been keeping in regular contact with one of our service users with mental health issues and who has suspected Covid-19. He has no one to help him other than his sister and Preshal. This is his only link to the outside world apart from his sister.
Here is a real example of the CEO of Preshal in action:
One night I was in my house doing my ironing when one of our clients called up at around 8pm. She said she was feeling very low and worried about the current situation. She is in a wheelchair and is finding the lock down extremely difficult as she does not get much social interaction, she has no family, lives on her own and her carers are on limited contact time for her own protection. I spent the next hour talking to her and singing Christmas carols as she loves Christmas and we had a great laugh. It really cheered her up and I was so happ ythat she knew she could phone us. Sometimes it is the simple things that mean the most and just taking a wee bit of time to talk to someone can really change their mood and mind set.
I think this quote sums it up:
‘I have learned that people will forget what you said,
People will forget what you did,
But people will never forget how you made them feel.’
We have had our fair share of needy people, but the other week we had a poor soul arrive at Preshal. I am going to call him John.
A guy called John turned up at our door, totally out of the blue. He saw our shutters open and came up to ask for help. John had just got out of hospital,he had a wee suitcase and a bag with him, and he literally had nowhere to go ,he was homeless. We gave him a hot drink and phoned his dad, who was 67 years old. He told us plainly that he could not help his son anymore and that he was finished with him. We then tried to get John into a hostel, but we seemed to be banging our heads off a brick wall. Eventually we got him into the Copland Road Hostel and sent John up there with some soup, sausage rolls and a bag of food to keep him going. This was around lunch time. By 4pm the police were on the phone trying to find John. His bags were found in Cessnock Park and he was nowhere to be found.
The police got in touch with us as we were one of the last places he was seen. I decided that I would go out in the van and start searching along the Clyde as I had a feeling that he may have headed that way. At around 6pm I was driving along and I saw a poor soul in a bus shelte rbleeding profusely from his head and face. I turned the van around to go back when I noticed a police van. I drove up to them and asked them to come with me to help the guy. I was keen to see if it was John. As we approached the guy, I explained to the police why I was out and who I was looking for. The police told me that they did not think this guy was John and they thought that he had already been found so they took my details and said they would phone me once they had confirmation. The guy I found was completely unconscious and the police said he was lucky I was driving by and spotted him. The police contacted an ambulance and told me to be on my way. As I headed home the police phoned and confirmed that John, the original guy, had been found safe and well and that the other guy was on his way to hospital to get much needed attention.
This is Preshal at its core, this is why we do what we do. To help the most vulnerable in their time of need. You see homelessness, depression, anxiety, drug addiction and alcohol addiction don't stop because we are facing the threat of Covid 19. If anything, these afflictions are greatly increased as people try to find coping mechanisms to get through these tough times. That is why it is important to keep up communication through any means possible with our clients and be as much of a support as possible during these times.
What I have also noticed is that communities are starting to come together. We have phoned up some of our clients who are in real financial hardship and offered them food parcels and they have said “no” to give the parcels to the homeless as they need them more than they do. I see people coming to us to collect food parcels for their elderly neighbour who can’t come out the house because they are shielding, I see neighbours picking up hot food to take round to those who cannot leave the house because they think they may have the virus. This is the true definition of putting the unity back in the word community.
Below is some feedback from some of the people we have helped recently.
Dear Alan Nicholson
I begin by stressing that, firstly, I intend to get this card to you during the current lockdown by striding to the postbox at the end of my street at first light when almost nobody else is about and that, secondly, you might want to give this card to the volunteer concerned to keep.
Anyway, this card is to thank your organization for delivering to me last Friday a most overwhelming but most welcome amount of groceries, both fresh and non-perishable, at the behest of Linthouse Housing Association Chief Exec and a good pal during my self-imposed semi-self-isolation.
I have an underlying health condition that has left me with a compromised immune system and your organization is the only one that has sprung into action to help me with the delivery of groceries. (The Dig-In greengrocer team has moved swiftly to deliver me – for a fee, of course – fresh fruit and vegetables.) I learned on Sunday during a conversation with an agent on the City Council’s dedicated corona virus helpline that my name wasn’t (yet) on the list of recipients of these much-discussed ‘shielding’ letters, presumably – he added – because the Scottish government are still feeding through data from the various NHS boards.
And apparently we vulnerable types can access various services only when we have our letter at hand. So thank goodness you guys are around to carry the burden sleekly and generously.
Philosophical rather than outraged is how I feel about this situation. These are unprecedented, fast-changing times and we’ve had no trial-run. We’re learning and building systems ‘on the hoof’. It calls to my mind the mid-1970s, when I was a teen and when my late mother was an NHS Health Visitor, having to learn with her colleagues at lightning speed how to process the influx of East African Asians fleeing Idi Amin and the Vietnamese Boat People with no textbooks at hand and with only the Save The Children charity in the vanguard to offer and give support.
Your chirpy volunteer / member of paid staff Stevie moved at breakneck speed to phone me up not only to find out what food I needed (or craved!) but to reassure me that I’d made absolutely the right decision a few weeks ago, given my medical circumstances, to discontinue with immediate effect entering any shop during this coronavirus outbreak. He also enquired, in a heartfelt manner, after my mental health.
I have no hesitation at all, therefore, in enclosing a cheque to the value of £10 for your charity.
We are all playing our part in continuing to provide comfort, support, food and anything else that is required by the community of Linthouse and the Govan area. Right now, there is a great demand for what we are providing. Once the restrictions are lifted there will be an even greater demand for our project, helping people rebuild their lives and picking up the pieces.
I hope this has given you a flavour of the work we are doing here in Govan and once again thank you for all your support.
Please view the full COVID-19 report with photos - click here.
Privacy Statement for The Preshal Trust Preshal - the Gaelic for “precious” - and that is how we feel about everyone who comes through our doors of the Preshal Trust Centre.
In a friendly, caring, loving and supportive way Preshal seeks to tackle, head-on, the problem of social exclusion in the Linthouse area of Glasgow. This problem is manifested in poverty, alcohol and drug addiction, low literacy and numeracy levels, depression and low self-esteem.
The Trust, working with other agencies, provides a wide range of social, recreational and educational activities which enable these issues to be dealt with effectively. We adopt an holistic approach whereby we seek to cater for the whole person, including meeting individual physical, mental and - as a Christian rooted organisation - spiritual needs.
The Trust's premises are open Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 4:00pm, Tuesday evening till 8pm for youth work and on Sunday afternoon, from 3:00pm, when we have a lunch before the Preshal Fellowship meets.
Each day there is a varied programme of activities (always beginning with tea and toast!), and in any one week folk engage in pastimes such as art and craft work, including card making, digital photography, board and table games, cooking, bowls, fishing, literacy, numeracy and IT classes.
We also encourage our people to socialise and build relationships, and activities such as the three times weekly lunch club, quizzes, bowling and pool tournaments assist this process!
Check out our latest What's On and Upcoming Events on our What's On page, click the button below.What's On +
Art Class, Knitting,
Sewing, Cooking Classes,
Women's Group 1.30pm - 3pm
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Quiz, Digital Photography
Choir, Music Class,
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Arts and Crafts,
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SW Area Foodbank 12-2pm,
Bingo, Guitar Class, Pool
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Baking Class, Crafts Club,
Lunch Club, Pool/Dominoes, Themed Entertainment
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Centre Open: Monday to Friday 9.00am-4.00pm; Tuesday 9.00am-8.30pm; Sunday 6pm-8pm
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