Your Local Pantries are making an amazing difference to people’s lives, in all four nations of the UK.

From Portadown to Portsmouth, Edinburgh to Ebbw Vale, Pantries are bringing people together around food and helping people forge friendships and freedom, to live more full lives.

Pantries are about so much more than food.

We were delighted recently to chat to Donald, a member at Leith Pantry in Edinburgh and a talented artist.

Some of his pictures are now on display in the Pantry, for members and volunteers to enjoy.

Donald, who is 66 and recently retired, says:

“I’ve been painting and drawing my whole life. I worked in graphic design at first, then in advertising, in Edinburgh then London then Amsterdam.

“Unfortunately, throughout my life, I have had mental health issues based on my childhood. I have suffered depression really badly.

“About six years ago, I was staying in Holland got really depressed and ended up homeless. I ended up back in Edinburgh and needing to use the food bank. And then they told me about the Pantry.

“I joined just as it was opening a year or so ago, and it was really nice. I go every week. The free vegetables and fruit is great. I’m on a limited income, so I was buying processed food as it’s cheaper, but it’s not as good for you.

“Since joining, I’ve been feeling a bit better and I have been off my medication for the first time in six years.

“It’s improved my diet and I have finally been getting good treatment from the NHS.

“A big part of that improvement has been thanks to Leith Pantry.

“I wanted to give something back, and what I do best is drawing and painting. So I brought a picture in one day and the manager Ann liked it, and now there are five or six on the walls – some of scenes in Leith and Edinburgh, and one of the church where the Pantry is. 

“The Pantry contributed to me feeling better and being able to do my art again, and that in turn helps my mood further.

“I went to the food bank first, but at the Pantry you have choice, which is important. You can choose what you want.

“You also get the good social contacts. It’s well run and they’re always very cheery and I look forward to it every week.”

83% of Your Local Pantry members say membership has been good for their mental health

Read more about the impact of Pantries across the UK, in the So Much More! report.