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Council to help identify residents most impacted by pandemic for British Red Cross cash grant

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is set to become a referral partner for the British Red Cross’ Hardship Fund.

The decision was taken during a meeting of Council’s leisure and community services committee.

However, before becoming official it will need to be signed off at a meeting of full Council at the end of November.

Members were advised that the British Red Cross has launched its hardship fund to help those most financially impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Aiming to support up to 13,000 people over a three month period the fund aims to help those unable to afford essentials including: food and toiletries; a safe place to sleep; telephone and internet access and fuel to keep the lights on, cook and stay warm.

By agreeing to be a referral partner Council will help identify potential recipients of the fund.

Those eligible will receive a cash grant of a maximum of £360, paid in three monthly instalments of £120 each. Families with children or other dependants can apply for up to three grants for a total of £1,080.

Proposing the recommendation Alderman Jim Speers said the British Red Cross are an international body who do great work around the world.

“We all know about them and this is, no doubt, an extension to it in our area so I am more than happy to propose that we become a referral partner for this programme,” said the Ulster Unionist Party representative.

Alderman Gareth Wilson seconded the proposal and asked about the criteria for people accessing the fund.

A council officer responded the criteria is set by the British Red Cross and Council will have to adhere to their rules.

However, the officer did advise that Council may have other ways to support those not able to avail of these funds.

“We have our own helpline and that is where it really comes into its own,” said the officer.

“We have more partners than just the British Red Cross and we can look at different funding schemes, including the Department for Communities discretionary funding, to help those in need.

“By agreeing to become a referral partner for the British Red Cross’ Hardship Fund we are essentially adding it in as another form of help to people out there who will be able to avail of it.”

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