IT HAS been a "frantic" winter so far at one of the Wee County's major foodbanks.

The Gate Charity in Alloa continued to provide emergency food parcels, toiletry packs, cleaning essentials, chocolate treats and pet food for those referred for support over the festive period.

Staff and volunteers have also been partnering up with various Clackmannanshire charities to make sure all vulnerable children had a gift or two to open in 2020.

Volunteers also provided 55 people with a Christmas lunch through its flagship Soup Pot project.

While it had to be takeaway this year, everyone received a warm lunch, a gift and toiletry pack.

Marie Brownhill, centre manager at The Gate, said: "We are hoping that people feel supported physically by The Gate by providing food.

"However, we are concerned about the level of social isolation within the area due to the Covid restrictions and new lockdown regulations.

"We know that we need to adhere to these regulations but the impact on people's mental health is concerning."

Indeed, with all of The Gate's social projects closed, there are concerns people are feeling lonely and isolated.

Marie added: "Since March, as Covid hit our community, there has been a huge expansion in the service resulting in a 100 per cent increase for food parcels within weeks.

"Before Covid, around about 60 per cent of our referrals were to support single people; however, it is now 60 per cent in families being referred.

"October to December has also been frantic, both on the number of parcels going out but also the quantity of donations received.

"The generosity of the local Clackmannanshire community continues to amaze us year on year.

"During 2020, we have already put out more than 3,000 food parcels, supporting over 7,000 people in our county."

Going into 2021, Marie said her message is: "Stay safe, don't be ashamed to visit your local foodbank – that's what we are here for.

"Also, if you don't need the support, then donate what you can to support those less fortunate than you.

"No one knows what is going to come to their own doorstep.

"People have been so kind, and without our generous community we could not operate our services to support the most vulnerable without our community."