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Leisure centres repurposed as Community Coordination Hubs for vulnerable residents

Three leisure centres in Newry, Mourne and Down will be repurposed as Community Coordination Hubs to help vulnerable residents across the district receive essential supplies.

NMD Council has been working in partnership with colleagues across Local Government, the Health Trusts and the Department for Communities to set up the hubs and is now ready to play its part in delivering the service on the ground.

Newry Leisure Centre, Down Leisure Centre and Kilkeel Leisure Centre have been repurposed as processing centres to organise deliveries and other sites are currently being identified should they be required.

When fully operational over 100 leisure centre staff will be redeployed to work across all sites.

Other staff from across the Council are helping operate a ‘virtual’ hub to coordinate the response.

Staff training is currently underway for those who will be working in split shifts at the centres while observing social distancing and other safety protocols. The service launches on Monday, April 6 across our seven District Electoral Areas, with deliveries expected to centre on food supplies.

The Covid-19 Community Helpline is already operational. Those in vulnerable groups seeking support can make contact between 9am to 5pm, seven days a week: Freephone number: 0808 802 0020 Email:
Text: ACTION to 81025

The helpline is being managed by Advice NI, who are processing calls from across Northern Ireland. Calls that are relevant to the Council’s Community Coordination Hub will be passed on to the Council for action, including referrals from the Southern and South Eastern Health and Social Care Trusts.

County Down Rural Community Network in Downpatrick, the Confederation of Community Groups in Newry and Community Advice Newry Mourne and Down, will also be acting as lead organisations for the community groups involved in this response.

These three bodies are the key lead organisations in our CVS Strategic Stakeholder Forum, part of our Community Planning structures. Any volunteers required are being recruited via Volunteer Now.

Please note that our distribution centres are not open to members of the public or community groups.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Charlie Casey encouraged those in vulnerable groups needing help to contact the freephone helpline.

“From the outset of our Coranavirus response we wanted to make sure we could reach those in the district who might need our help the most,” he said.

“This is a very difficult time for all of us and we want to make sure that our most vulnerable residents have access to essential supplies. No-one should feel they are on their own so please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0808 802 0020 if you need assistance.

“I want to thank everyone involved in getting this Community Coordination Hub up and running. I know there has been a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes over the past week and I commend those in the community and voluntary sector who have been working with us and the other statutory bodies to put these plans into action.”

More information on the Covid-19 Community Helpline is available at the NI Direct website:

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