A PROJECT that is a first for Scotland and sees surplus goods from Amazon donated to struggling families has been given £150,000 by Fife Council.

Under the "innovative" Big Hoose initiative, hundreds of tonnes of basic household items that may otherwise go to waste are being taken from the company's fulfilment centre in Dunfermline and distributed to those in need.

By the end of February it had already helped more than 6,000 families in the Kingdom and the council will now give £150,000 to help develop the initiative and employ staff.

At the policy and co-ordination committee last week, Michael Enston, the executive director for communities, said: "There's nothing like it in Scotland, although there are similar models in Leeds and in the USA.

"It's innovative in linking a business need to a community benefit and the role of the voluntary sector in supporting that."

The Big Hoose initiative aims to help families struggling with the cost of living crisis by supplying basic household necessities, such as toilet rolls, nappies, wipes and toiletries to clothing, backpacks, home furnishings, lightings and electrical products.

The lead charity is the Cottage Family Centre, which is based in Kirkcaldy and has former Prime Minister Gordon Brown as its patron.

He's hoping the scheme can be rolled out across the UK and help thousands more families.

The surplus goods from Amazon – and other businesses who are also now donating items – are taken to a warehouse in Lochgelly.

There are 60 charities involved in the initiative, as well as schools, health centres, GP surgeries and social work departments, who can make referrals on behalf of local families.

The household goods they need are then processed by the Amazon project team – staff are volunteering at the warehouse until the end of June – and made available for collection.

Between December and the end of February, the Big Hoose gave 26,949 products to more than 6,000 families.

It's estimated that, in the first year, Amazon will donate 200,000 goods worth an average of £20 each, totalling £4 million.

Around 80 per cent of the goods will be donated to 15,000 families with the remaining non-essential items being sold on, providing a revenue stream to make the initiative financially sustainable.

Mr Enston said the initiative had "achieved a significant amount in a short space of time" and told councillors: "It is estimated that over 100 trailers of goods over 12 months will provide families in need with items ranging from bins to beds, mugs to mattresses, curtains to crockery.

"The potential social impact of this project is considerable."

The initiative plans to pass on skills too. If, for example, a company donated surplus painting supplies, individuals could be given training on how to decorate their own home.

Mr Enston said: "This is not just about the supply of households goods, as important as that is, it's about relationship building and ultimately helping people get to a better place rather than just providing goods and walking away."

And he told councillors: "The immediate issue is funding to support the staffing of the warehouse and logistics.

"That is currently being done by Amazon staff but they can't do that on a continuing basis so that's what the funding from the Covid economic recovery fund would provide."

Councillors also agreed a 12-month extension to the Hardship Grant Scheme.