Foodbank

Foodbank is an ongoing photographic project by Glasgow-based photographers Saskia Coulson and Colin Tennant which began in the summer of 2020.

A volunteer in the doorway of one of the many storerooms of the food bank.

In 2009, the Trussel Trust (the UK’s largest food bank charity) opened its first branch in Scotland. Ten years later The Scotsman reported that there were a staggering 52 food banks operating in Glasgow alone. It is clear that in Scotland, and across the UK, we are seeing an increase in food insecurity with serious consequences for the health and wellbeing of children and adults alike. This is not a new issue, but concerns have been brought into sharp focus as a result of the global pandemic, food supply issues in light of Brexit and threats posed by the economic downturn.

A volunteer preparing food parcels. Due to Covid restrictions food bank users are only allowed to come into the building one at a time to select their weekly shop.

It has been projected that six food parcels will be given out every minute in the UK from October to December this year.

This work-in-progress project documents a food bank in the East End of Glasgow. It captures everyday people who volunteer their time and resources to provide sustenance to those in need.

A volunteer chef prepares the takeaway soup to be given out to those waiting in line for groceries.
A volunteer stands outside the food bank with a collection of open cereal boxes, the food bank often receives strange donations.
A volunteer stands in a newly built storeroom which is due to store all the donations. Recent changes in the building operations mean the original storerooms are needing to be cleared for church activities. 

“We live less than 100 yards from our local food bank in the East End of Glasgow. We first got to know the volunteers who run the food bank when we started helping deliver food parcels during the first UK lockdown when COVID-19 hit. Although it had been operating for many years prior to pandemic. Both the food bank and the (pay what you can) cafe are run out of the same church and share many of the same passionate volunteers that are the heart and soul of all operations.

Through this work we seek to highlight the invaluable service food banks provide to local communities. The work aims to illustrate the power and importance of grassroots community organisations that support and help society’s most vulnerable but also question why more and more people are reliant on the resources provided by food banks.

Throughout the project, we have spoken to volunteers about the uncertainty that this charity, and many like it, face. In the wake of government support for COVID-19, many existing funding programmes have been slashed or seriously cut back, which has left charities with an uncertain future. Not only is there anxiety around what lies ahead but the charity is also having to change their operations to abide by strict safety measures, which are changing on a weekly basis. What was once a busy social hub for those less fortunate to receive a hot meal, weekly basic shop and often some well needed company has now become a regimented process of allowing people in on a one-by-one basis.” – Colin and Saskia.

A user waits to be allowed into the food bank, which now operates on a one in, one out basis.
Stacks of donations are stored in every available space.
A new volunteer stands outside the food bank, she has recently decided to help out as she studies for her degree online. 

In light of these restrictions and setbacks, this project seeks to represent the hard-working individuals who keep this food bank running and how they strive to make sure that this organisation can not only provide food for the community, but can also provide a place for comfort, companionship and compassion.

A volunteer stands in a storeroom of the foodbank. 
A Volunteer and user embrace. As well as providing food for those in need, the food bank is a safe, social space for those seeking comfort and company.

All photographs and text, © Colin Tennant and Saskia Coulson, 2020.

Find your closest foodbank here. Please consider donating to your local foodbank if you don’t already do so. Thanks – Document Scotland.


We hope you have enjoyed the above article and images. Since forming in 2012 all the work featured on this site, and the work undertaken to enable it, has been free of charge. Now, times are changing. To continue we feel we need to ask for your support, to help us manage our time and energies, and to continue sharing photography we care about. Please visit our Patreon page and consider being a supporter. Thank you – Jeremy, Sophie, Colin. 

Become a Patron!
Did you like this? Share it:

Aye by Jörg Meier

Glasgow has long history of photographers chronicling life on its streets and in the schemes.

Some have been restless natives, others interlopers. Some passed through, others stayed and got to know Scotland’s biggest city and most populous conurbation. Glasgow gives generously to visitors, ready with smiles and stories, yet half-hidden are the truths which underpin a narrative of poverty, inequality and myriad social ills. It has all been photographed before.

It is these themes which offer the exploring eye an opportunity to grasp the Glaswegian reality. It’s no mean city and there’s no half measures, after all. Our memory bank of images is often saturated by Glasgow’s past. From Thomas Annan during the Victorian era, through Joseph McKenzie and Oscar Marzaroli’s (currently on show at Street Level Photoworks) peripatetic perambulations around the city slums, we have become familiar with a style of photography which leans heavily on tropes as metaphor. That’s not to say these photographers’ documentation of the way we lived is inaccurate or cliched. Far from it. It is a vivid truth, naked and unvarnished.

More recently, the images made by French Magnumista Raymond Depardon have come into plain sight. Shot in 1980, we see a city in its most forlorn and decayed state, updated in shocking, vibrant tints. Beauty in brutality. It is almost as if the past has been coloured in for us. A reminder what was and still is. Still more now find Glasgow a canvas on which to re-imagine the present. A roll call which includes Document Scotland’s own and others who gravitate to and navigate through the city.

To these canons of work we can now add Jörg Meier, a German who stumbled across Glasgow almost by accident in 2019 and has since embedded himself in the Dear Green Place and befriended her people. His work immediately sets you at ease. Here is a photographer who is comfortable in his surroundings. It is not difficult to imagine him striking up conversations in bars and cafes, his inquisitive nature satisfied by Glasgow’s warm embrace. His work, set out somewhat haphazardly in a project called ‘Aye’, provokes us into emotions, like all photography of value should do. It is, it seems to me, as if he has been here forever. Was that him refusing to pay Maggie’s Poll Tax? Or out on a pro-Independence demo? Or tumbling out of a gig at the Barrowlands? Or even gliding through the crowd to an Old Firm match. He looks at home here, at least that what his photography tells us.

Jörg was initially attracted to Glasgow on an exploratory trip to Scotland which involved a bike ride to Falkirk, alma mater of his favourite band, Arab Strap. But it was Glasgow he fell for. It reminds him, he tells me, of his native Dortmund, of how and where he grew up four decades ago, of the lamented decline of heavy industry, the decay and depression – and cold. With this history at the forefront of his mind, he started looking around Glasgow and seeing parallels in the shapes and forms of his childhood. Soon, he was making connections through a project near Ibrox which helps and supports people who need a second chance in life. It is at this point that his photography breaks on through to the other side.

Away from the rain-lashed streets, the eternally grey skies and banks of housing etched out in geometric shapes and sizes funnelling back from the meandering, sleepy river Clyde, he befriends locals in a way which is both genuine and heartfelt. It feels like a solid relationship is established. His portraiture leans on an idiosyncrasy which hides and reveals much simultaneously. We feel empathy and sympathy, but we still do not know the whole story. It feels good to be inside, although there is a hint of damp menace in the surroundings. Like being in a room heated only with a two-bar electric fire on a cold day outside. Nevertheless, it is warm an intimate.

He trades on ambiguity, in the way so much contemporary German photography does. It is, however, underpinned by an intellect, the difference being it is not cold nor calculated, rather enquiring, inquisitive in nature. It lets Glasgow flourish.

I ask Jörg if his project is finished. The answer is somewhat noncommittal. Like all of us, he is held in check by Covid’s chains, unable for now to rekindle his love for Glasgow, to take up with its people and restart the relationship. There is so much to do when released from the pandemic purgatory. In the meantime, enjoy what he has shown us this far on his journey. I look forward to seeing him working in Glasgow again soon. We’ll say aye to that.

To hear Colin McPherson’s interview with Jörg Meier, please become one of our valued supporters on our Patreon platform.

Photograph © Jörg Meier, 2020 all rights reserved.
Photograph © Jörg Meier, 2020 all rights reserved.
Photograph © Jörg Meier, 2020 all rights reserved.
Photograph © Jörg Meier, 2020 all rights reserved.
Photograph © Jörg Meier, 2020 all rights reserved.
Photograph © Jörg Meier, 2020 all rights reserved.
Photograph © Jörg Meier, 2020 all rights reserved.
Photograph © Jörg Meier, 2020 all rights reserved.
Photograph © Jörg Meier, 2020 all rights reserved.
Photograph © Jörg Meier, 2020 all rights reserved.

Since forming in 2012 all the work featured on our site, and the work undertaken to enable it, has been free of charge. Now, times are changing. To continue we feel we need to ask for your support, to help us manage our time and energies, and to continue sharing photography we care about, and that we hope you enjoy. Please visit our Patreon page (via button below!) and consider being a supporter, it would greatly help us and be much appreciated. Thank you – Jeremy, Sophie, Colin. 

Become a Patron!
Did you like this? Share it: