VOLUNTEERS and staff gathered to mark the final day of a project which has delivered over 30,000 meals to vulnerable people in Inverclyde.

The service at Branchton Community Centre ran for 18 weeks of the coronavirus lockdown.

A small band of staff and volunteers worked five days a week without a break to help those in need in their community.

Centre manager Willie Wilson said: "I am very proud of the team and volunteers at Branchton who stepped up and made a difference.

"On the first day at the end of March we produced 167 meals and we thought that was pretty good.

"From then it went up to over 450 meals a day.

"It's just been amazing."

The service delivered from Port Glasgow to Inverkip and reached the milestone of 33,618 meals this week as it finished up.

Willie said: "It has been really busy and hard work but very rewarding.

"We couldn't have done it without the volunteers.

"We had 25 regular volunteers - delivery drivers, chefs, preparers and packers.

"They've been absolutely fantastic.

"They've loved it too.

"Most volunteers don't want it to stop."

Willie says the project won't be ending completely but this is the end of a chapter.

He said: "This chapter is coming to an end.

"We are taking a two weeks break then after that we will come back with a similar project but this time only serving Greenock south west area.

"Part of the reason we are stopping is the funding from the Scottish Government is running out.

"We are starting to cut back and we will continue with people in our own area until September."

The centre also aims to start a social enterprise scheme where people in other areas who have been receiving meals can pay for the service.

A meal a day for five days a week will cost £15 and people want lunch and an evening meal that will cost £25.

Willie said: "We are offering that to people we have been delivering to and we will see what the take-up is.

"We're not going to make any profit, but it means we have the money to provide these meals to people who really need them.

"I would like to give the meals for free but the money from the Scottish Government is running out and running it as a social enterprise means we can employ a chef, packers and delivery drivers on a shorter term basis."