Tearoom takeaway a ‘no go’, say church trustees

Iain Scott wanted to open a takeaway for the vulnerable at his tearoom leased from St Conan's Kirk.

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Trustees of an historic church have turned down a tearoom’s plans to help feed the elderly during the coronavirus outbreak.

Iain Scott, a former Marie Curie nurse who runs the Kirk Tearoom next to St Conan’s Kirk in Lochawe, said he was stumped when the trustees rejected his plan to turn his kitchen into a temporary takeaway.

The church and the tearoom are closed because of COVID-19 but as a business he could legally sell takeaways food, he says.

Mr Scott said it was carers and district nurses who first asked him if he could provide takeaway meals for elderly people from Taynuilt out to Dalmally.

‘I’m worth my weight in gold to offer this service. I know what I’m doing, I’ve done my homework and it’s a service people suggested to me because it’s needed in our community.

‘I even offered to do it on a trial basis but the trustees said no. I’ve asked three times now and they won’t tell me why they keep refusing. My kitchen is fit for purpose, I’ve been in touch with environmental health and my public liability insurance covers everything.

‘This is not a money-making venture. The menu is affordable to feed the people who need the meals and, anyway, the trustees, as per our lease agreement, would still get ten per cent of any sales.

‘The Kirk is a place of worship but it’s not willing to help me help others even though they get thousands of pounds of funding to help with their restoration projects. I think they do a brilliant job of that but I just don’t understand their reasons for turning me down. In a crisis like this, everyone is having to adapt but they are not willing to bend at all,’ he said.

The trustees are separate to the Friends of St Conan’s Kirk which fundraises for the building.

Mr Scott’s plan was to run takeaways and a delivery service from the Kirk Tearoom on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 8pm on a ring to order basis.

Carers would pick up the meals to warm later in clients homes or collect them hot and ready-to-go – all under COVID-19 hygiene rules.

‘I know about infection control. I’ve been a palliative nurse and have lots of experience of barrier nursing. I would not be putting anyone at risk of the virus,’ he said.

A statement from the trustees said: ‘The trustees of St Conan’s Kirk are following government guidelines and made the decision to keep the Kirk, its tearoom and environs locked down until the restrictions are lifted. These steps were taken for the safety of all our volunteers, staff, customers and other helpers. A number of groups, volunteers and Argyll and Bute Council are supporting vulnerable people with their needs at this time, including food deliveries.’