Well, this certainly hasn’t been the six months that I thought it was going to be.  On 27th April 2020 I sat down in my home office, at the same desk I have sat at for the past 12 years but this wasn’t a usual work day, this was the first day in a new job. I had jumped on board the Food Train with the remit to launch their new service, ‘Connects’.      

It was the height of the Covid 19 pandemic and I had just entered the whirlwind of activity that is Food Train. No face to face introductions with new colleagues, no on-site inductions and no in-person meetings with my new manager. All was virtual but it was a very warm and friendly welcome and I felt at home straight away.  I met all my colleagues in zoom meetings and over Microsoft Teams and six months later have still not met anyone face to face.

Food Train has been supporting older people for over 25 years now, our branches across several local authority areas in Scotland are providing a regular weekly food shopping service plus a variety of other services. Within Food Train there is also Mealmakers and Eat Well Age Well, Mealmakers is a local neighbourhood food-sharing project that connects people who love cooking and an older neighbour who would appreciate a freshly cooked meal and some company. Eat Well Age Well is a national project tackling malnutrition in older people living at home.    

Food Train had plans to develop another new service, ‘Connects’, which would aim to cover all parts of Scotland where we don’t have branches. The plan was to match volunteer shoppers on a one to one basis with an older person in their neighbourhood to do their regular grocery shopping for them.

Then the pandemic struck.

The ‘Connects’ plans were accelerated as the offer of a volunteer Shopping Friend for older people unable to get their own shopping become more important than ever. I joined Food Train at this moment and was tasked with getting this service off the ground.

At the same time a huge operation was happening across Food Train, not only to maintain our vital services but to regularly call all members to check in on them and ensure they were OK.  A massive task involving both staff and volunteers.  Over the months it became clear that these regular calls were highly valued and provided an essential support line for isolated, older people.  It was decided that we would provide a regular phone call service under the ‘Connects’ umbrella and ‘Phone Friends’ was launched.

Six months down the line and although I still feel like the ‘newbie’ I also feel like I’ve been here forever thanks to the welcoming atmosphere at Food Train. The Food Train Connects service is flourishing with both Shopping Friends and Phone Friends attracting a great deal of interest from both volunteers and older people.

The Connects staff team is growing and we are a small but perfectly formed group with great plans for the future of the service – a service which is a vital lifeline for so many older people. Connects not only offers grocery shopping and regular telephone calls but provides a real connection to the community, a friendly face and a blether.

It’s been a quick six months in unusual circumstances but I’m delighted that I have spent it developing and launching such a fantastic service that will benefit so many older people across Scotland.

I’m looking forward to the next six months and more at Food Train Connects.

Morna O’May

Service Manager

Food Train Connects

0800 304 7924





Home working isn’t really like this.

As the world went in to lockdown and workplaces closed their doors, there was a sudden rush for employees to set up as homeworkers if they could. Spare rooms were commandeered, kitchen tables cleared, a corner of the bedroom tidied up. Tech was needed to be set up, laptops, mobile phones, printers, logging in to the organisation’s system, what about webcams, GDPR, IT support, office stationery? As all this was going on around me amongst my colleagues, friends, family and the wider world the one thought in my head was ‘welcome to my world’.

I have been a home-based worker for over 20 years with several different organisations. I’ve worked in the spare room, a corner of the bedroom and at the kitchen table. I find it an ideal working environment, I’m at my most productive and creative when working like this and leading remote teams has been a pleasure and has proven to be a highly effective route to innovation and productivity.

However, during the lockdown period home-based working has had to go to the extreme. Zoom meetings, webinars, online training, conference calls, virtual networking, WhatsApp groups, screen sharing, phone catch ups, Facebook live, Slack chats, Yammer messaging – the list goes on and on….

I compare my current home- based work to my previous home- based work and I miss all the face to face interaction, the team meetings, the networking events, the staff one to ones, the conferences, the training sessions, meetings with sector peers, funders, supporters, volunteers and charity beneficiaries.

To everyone who has been forced in to a home working situation and is struggling with the isolation and the necessary tech based communication I just want to say it’s not really like this, it’s really not! Home- based working, although based at home also needs to include all that human interaction that feeds the soul and sparks creativity.

I look forward to the day when we can get back to some form of that essential human contact as it has become crystal clear to me that a key part of being a home-based worker is that you don’t spend all your time at home and the times away from home are essential.

If you plan to continue being a home-based worker after lockdown and are concerned about maintaining this current working model, don’t worry, it isn’t really like this.