Love Falkirk, part of Falkirk Vineyard, a community church in Falkirk, is a compassion ministry which helps individuals and families who are struggling with poverty and crises. In 2020 and 2021, Love Falkirk used the District Towns Gift Card to support families in need.
Andrew McNinch is the Senior Pastor at Falkirk Vineyard and said:
“Love Falkirk provides support to those in need and believes that everyone deserves to feel loved and worthy and be able to live a life of dignity. One of the main pillars of our church is to serve and invest in our community and the District Towns Gift Card has played a part in that.
“We have operated a food provision since we started and in 2019 we joined up with other groups to form the Falkirk Food Consortium and open the Food Pantry. The Food Pantry is set up like a shop, members pay £2 per week and get a week’s worth of groceries. It’s heavily subsidised, but the idea of people contributing a small amount aligns with our goals of giving people the support they need to live a life of dignity. We avoid the use of terms like ‘food bank’ for this reason too. For us, it’s about giving a hand up rather than a hand down, we’re all on the same level.
“In 2017 we started a Christmas project where we provided Christmas dinner hampers and Christmas presents to those in our community who would otherwise do without. Working alongside Falkirk Council’s Social Work Department, we would get a call when there was a family in crisis and would deliver a package to the department for distribution to the family.
“At Christmas there was also a need for Christmas gifts for children. Again, we worked with Falkirk Council’s Social Work Department and would collect toys through our church members to be given to children of families in need. With the pandemic in 2020, we realised that we couldn’t safely distribute physical toys, and looked for an alternative. We discovered the District Towns Gift Card which was a good fit for our values at Love Falkirk, and used the local gift cards in place of the toys we used to collect.
“In 2020 and again in 2021 we raised funds through church using an online donation platform which was then used to buy the District Towns Gift Card at £50 value, and also some toy specific vouchers, which were distributed to families via Falkirk Council’s Social Work Department.
“Parents were delighted to be able to go and actually buy a gift for their child for Christmas, which was of their choosing rather than being given a gift that we had purchased on their behalf. It meant parents could pick a gift that they knew their child would love, based on the child’s interests. There was something very freeing for the parents about using the gift card, and dignity too. Rather than buying a gift, some parents with older children actually gave the child the District Towns Gift Card, so they could go into Falkirk and spend it with a variety of national and independent businesses. However the family used the gift card, it was a pleasure for them to spend.
“In Christmas 2022, we’ll continue to use the District Towns Gift Card. For us, it enables families in need to have the normality of buying a gift for their child, a Christmas tradition that many of us take for granted. Giving parents that chance to go into a shop and maybe get something from their child’s Christmas list that they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, is very powerful.
“The families we are supporting are not going to venture far from home to use the gift card, so the fact that the District Towns Gift Card can be used with over 130 businesses in the area means it is convenient for the family. The choice and diversity on offer is vital too, there’s clothes shops, cafés, salons, even places to buy school uniform.
“The whole Christmas gifting project using the District Towns Gift Card has been so positive for us as a community organisation. When we talk about it in church services, there is a lot of emotion around the topic. For us, it is joyous. Falkirk Council’s Social Work Department and Falkirk Delivers have been so supportive and enthusiastic, sharing our passion for helping families in need. We also know that by supporting families in our community through the District Towns Gift Card, the investment is staying within the community and boosting the local economy.”