Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and its partners will have delivered over 700 food parcels to vulnerable and isolated residents across the district by the end of this week.
Between Wednesday, April 8 and Sunday, April 12, 475 food parcels received from the Department for Communities were distributed from new Council Community Coordination Hub distribution centres at Newry, Down and Kilkeel Leisure Centres. In addition to this, another 250 food parcels will be delivered by Friday 17 April.
The food packages include items such as tinned and dried food, cereals and some essential toiletries. Requests for help from the Council and its community and voluntary partners are arriving via Access NI, who are processing calls from across Northern Ireland on a Freephone helpline.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Charlie Casey said, “I am pleased to see just how many of our most vulnerable residents have been able to receive food parcel deliveries over the past week. Our sincere thanks go to all our partners who worked with us over the Easter break to achieve this and all the volunteers who have already kindly offered their help.
“It is important that we provide a lifeline to those following medical advice to shield to protect their health, or who are self-isolating, and have no other means of assistance. During our response to COVID-19, we will continue to work hard to deliver essential supplies to those who need them and ensure no-one feels alone or isolated at this difficult time.”
Those in vulnerable groups seeking support can make contact on the Advice NI Freephone helpline between 9am to 5pm, seven days a week: Freephone number: 0808 802 0020; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Text: ACTION to 81025
Calls relevant to the Council’s Community Coordination Hub will be passed on to the Council and its voluntary and community partners for action, including referrals from the Southern and South Eastern Health and Social Care Trusts.
Please note that Newry Leisure Centre, Down Leisure Centre and Kilkeel Leisure Centre are not open to the public. Anyone who has requested a food parcel will have this delivered to them directly.
County Down Rural Community Network in Downpatrick, the Confederation of Community Groups in Newry and Community Advice Newry Mourne and Down are acting as lead organisations for the community groups involved in this response. These three bodies are communicating daily with all the organisations in the Council’s Strategic Stakeholder Forum as part of its Community Planning and response structures. Community organisations on the ground will be supporting the community coordination hub by way of personnel, vehicles, volunteers and coordination initially. That role may grow as required.
Any other volunteers who wish to assist in the delivery of food and supplies or ensure residents on their own at this time receive phone calls to help ease their isolation, are encouraged to register with Volunteer Now via their website. Their Covid-19 #HelpEachOther campaign has been launched at https://www.volunteernow.co.uk/volunteering/ to refer volunteers to its Be Collective platform for opportunities. Organisations can also identify COVID 19 Volunteering requirements at: https://www.volunteernow.co.uk/organisations/