A HELENSBURGH greengrocer is offering free fruit and vegetables to local unemployed people as a way of helping those in need in the community.

Nature’s Harvest, which first opened in the town in 2009, launched the kind gesture over the weekend to support residents without a job during the pandemic.

The West Princes Street store is also making fresh fruit freely available for school children to encourage a healthy diet from a young age.

The initiative is being supported by an anonymous donor who has given their financial backing to ensure supply meets demand over the coming months.

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Chris Hudspith, who runs the small, family-owned business with sons Matthew and Thomas, said: “We haven’t had any takers yet after the offer started on Saturday, but hopefully those who are in need will come and enjoy the fresh fruit and vegetables.

“I genuinely hope that those who are in need won’t feel embarrassed to come in and ask for help because we are here to help and we are happy to help.

“There is an awful lot of talk about people on benefits finding it difficult to get fresh fruit and vegetables, so I would say to people to please come and make use of this offer. You can’t get better than a healthy option.”

Chris said some of the store’s regular customers have also pledged to financially support the offer, which will run for as long as funds permit.

He added: “Certainly we would be happy to see anybody who is in any sort of financial difficulty come in the door, we would be delighted.

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“We’re also offering free items of fruit to local school children as a way of letting youngsters try new and different things that perhaps they don’t see on the table at home. If they’re walking to school in the morning, they can pop in and have a couple of apples or bananas.

“We’ll continue to offer this for as long as we can, I would expect until beyond Christmas and possibly up until Easter next year.”

For more information, or to donate to the free food fund, call the shop on 01436 674455.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week reveal that Scotland’s unemployment rate has remained steady over the summer, while the UK rate has hit a three-year high.

From June to August 2020 the number of people seeking work north of the border was 124,000 - an unemployment rate of 4.5 per cent. The ONS data also showed the employment rate in Scotland rose slightly in June to August, to 73.9 per cent.

Meanwhile the UK’s unemployment rate rose from 4.1 per cent to 4.5 per cent over the same period.

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