During National Carers Week (8-14 June), South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has paid tribute to carers, Karen Wylie and the team of volunteers at Lochside Community Centre, operated by Lochside Community Association, who have helped feed local families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.


Emma Harper generic Image

National Carers Week is an annual campaign which aims to raise awareness of caring and highlight the challenges that unpaid and young carers face and the contributions that they make to families and communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that carers are faced with new challenges, taking on extended or additional caring responsibilities for relatives and friends, who are disabled, ill or older and who require support.

Ms Harper paid tribute to Karen Wylie, Project co-ordinator and ‘Grub Club’ cook and her team of volunteers at Lochside Community Centre who, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, mobilised to adapt their usual business model to develop a doorstep delivery service.

Whilst Dumfries & Galloway Council stepped up allocation of food for children and young people via the free school meal programme, Lochside Community Association identified that the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic meant that some people’s financial situations were being drastically altered. In some cases this was happening overnight without any warning and there were families who would not meet the free school meals criteria.

The community also has a significantly aging demographic with many households falling into the high-risk categories. Many of these are lone occupancy households, are elderly, have underlying health issues and  lack the capacity to do online shopping.

Karen Wylie, said;

Many of our families here in North West Dumfries are on low-incomes and being either furloughed, made redundant or are self-employed and were previously only just getting by have been plunged suddenly into financial insecurity.


“To help feed our community at this time we have been distributing 750 to 1000 packed lunches three days a week. For many households it’s not just about receiving the food it’s about breaking the monotony. Offering the provision of homemade frozen ready meals also ensures that some of our most vulnerable residents receive every possible help to access free nutritious food.


“Getting the knock at the door and receiving a packed lunch has become a highlight of some people’s day. On some days we have been including a little activity pack or a request to encourage interaction to maintain connectivity with our ‘wee grub clubbers’ and their families.

South Scotland MSP, Emma Harper said;

Karen Wylie and her team at Lochside Community Centre have played a critical role in delivering care and support to local families within their neighbourhood during this pandemic.


“In normal times the centre operates, supported by Aberlour, Dumfries & Galloway Council and a team of willing volunteers. However, in this crisis they have demonstrated their detailed knowledge of the circumstances facing their community and have mobilised quickly to help feed families.


“They have also offered a sensitive approach with the lockdown restrictions challenging our basic need to connect and so I commend Karen Wylie and all her volunteers at Lochside Community Centre who have demonstrated fantastic community spirit during such a difficult time”.

Normally MSPs would be attending the annual parliamentary celebration event for Carers Week in the Garden lobby of the Scottish Parliament but this year MSPs will be paying tribute online.

For more information on Carers Week visit