THE volunteers from Lo'gelly Lunches are "deeply upset by the slur" cast on them and fear it could hit their fundraising efforts.

That's according to Labour councillor Mary Lockhart who took issue with Cllr Rosemary Liewald for highlighting "concerns with the internal governance" of the group.

At last week's Cowdenbeath area committee, Lo'gelly Lunches' request for £10,000 was unanimously approved but a row has broken out.

Cllr Lockhart, who represents the same Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty ward as Cllr Liewald, said: "Cllr Linda Erskine and I were shocked that such a damaging assertion - attributed by Cllr Liewald to officers - should be made about a group of constituents who are in the frontline of combating poverty, social isolation, poor mental health and loss of dignity."

Central Fife Times: Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley on a previous visit to the volunteers who run Lo'gelly Lunches. Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley on a previous visit to the volunteers who run Lo'gelly Lunches. (Image: Contributed)

She continued: "Lo'gelly Lunches volunteers have been deeply upset by the slur cast on the most hard working and resourceful community volunteers in Lochgelly.

"They fear that their ongoing fundraising efforts may be adversely affected, and that the immense trust and respect they have earned in the community may be tarnished.

"Despite the name, the volunteers at the lunches provide services and access far beyond a larder, a foodbank and lunch - all of which are much needed.

"The volunteers provide a listening ear to people in distress and signpost them to people and agencies - including the council - which can give them advice and support."

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She said they were always "first to respond to any crisis", including the delivery of home-cooked meals throughout the pandemic, the drive to provide good quality shoes for those who cannot afford them and sending humanitarian aid to Poland for people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Cllr Lockhart continued: "More recently, following the catastrophic fire in Francis Street, it was the volunteers from Lo'gelly lunches who turned up at Lochgelly Town Hall to provide hot drinks, sandwiches and a warm and comfortable place to sit, share their worries, and ultimately get support."

Lo'gelly Lunches received £5,000 of anti-poverty money from the council in December and successfully applied for a further £10,000 at last week's committee.

The group have spent more than £45,000 on food to stock the pantry since last April.

Cllr Lockhart stated: "Council officers have confirmed that there is not now, nor has there ever been, an issue over the governance of Lo'gelly Lunches.

"Despite Cllr Liewald’s allegation, no councillor voted against the award of funds."

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Cllr Liewald told the Times: "I have and will always support the hugely important work that they do.

"Last year I and one member of the group raised £1,300 in our sponsored cycle which added vital funds to their ongoing work.

"The concerns I raised at committee centred on the following which I will reiterate here.

"I believe it is appalling that in an energy rich country, because of ongoing Westminster austerity, we must have organisations that provide services and feed members of our communities who have nowhere else to go."

She said she was grateful officers are working with Lo'gelly Lunches to source external funding but said members had been advised "there are some concerns with the internal governance of the organisation".

Despite this, Cllr Liewald said was "reassured" that the council was working with the group and said the funding request would have been withdrawn if the officers deemed any issues to be "significant".

She added: "I’m assuming that should there be any future application that we will have an update and assurances concerning the governance of the organisation."

The SNP councillor concluded: "The concerns I expressed were concerns that had been shared with elected members in regard to assisting Lo'gelly Lunches to work with officers to find a greater sustainable model of working."

Cllr Lockhart said 'sustainability' shouldn't mean going it alone and added: "It is likely, in this cost of living crisis, that many groups and charitable organisations will continue to need public funding to continue to provide a vital service."