VOLUNTEER Centre East Lothian and its team of dedicated staff and volunteers have been described as a “critical lifeline” for vulnerable people living in East Lothian by an MSP.

The comments follow South Scotland MSP Craig Hoy’s visit to the Tranent-based facility.

The centre is a third-sector interface which provides support to voluntary organisations across East Lothian through partnership projects.

This has included working in partnership with Musselburgh-based Paragon Products to deliver cleaning supplies to support the opening of community and third-sector organisations.

During his visit, Mr Hoy met with the centre’s chief officer Maureen Allan, discussing some of the challenges and opportunities the easing of lockdown restrictions had presented for the voluntary sector.

The High Street facility also operates a children’s befriending service, supported hospital discharge programme, community taskforce service for those isolated during lockdown, a free community pantry and provides access to computers for those who struggle with technology.

Working with East Lothian Council’s connected communities team, the county’s health and social care partnership and other third-sector organisations in the county, the volunteer centre provides free, confidential advice and support for residents and support for small local third-sector groups.

Mr Hoy said: “Volunteer Centre East Lothian has become an essential service for many residents and organisations during this difficult period. The staff and volunteers are a critical lifeline for local residents.

“I would like to extend my thanks to Maureen for welcoming me to the centre and for her wider work fundraising.”

Maureen said: “Our communities, the third sector and statutory partners have shown how much can be achieved by working together. The pandemic made a lot of people re-evaluate their lives. Many residents volunteered their time and it was great to see the real community spirit that has been lost over the years resurface.”

To contact the centre, call 01875 615423, email info@volunteereastlothian.org.uk or visit volunteereastlothian.org.uk