Mayor welcomes additional support to address food and fuel poverty


Additional funding of £6.5m announced today by the Department for Communities to support those most severely impacted by Covid-19 has been warmly welcomed by the Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Brian Tierney.

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín confirmed that local Councils will be allocated £2.5m while £1m will go towards Charities including Fareshare, Saint Vincent De Paul, Salvation Army, Barnardo's and Save the Children.

£3m will also go towards the Warm, Well and Connected programme which will be allocated to a number of regionally significant, networked voluntary organisations who will help deliver the necessary interventions.

It's expected that £221k will be allocated to Derry and Strabane to alleviate food poverty, as part of the £3.5m provision by the N. Ireland Executive to sustain the Department for Communities' regional Food Support effort. The funding will be distributed to local Council areas based on the population and needs analysis for each area.

The local allocation will go towards funding a targeted food support programme to be co delivered by Council and the local community and voluntary sector. The Access to Food Programme will offer aid to those most in need in local communities and will be available from early December until the end of March.

Welcoming the announcement, Mayor Tierney said it was timely with additional pressures on support services over the Christmas period.

"The issue of food poverty is one that we are all particularly aware of in the run up to Christmas. We have a fantastic network of community and voluntary organisations working on the ground to deliver interventions, but they need all the support that's available to help meet local need. Food poverty is a major concern, and one that has really come under the spotlight during the Covid-19 crisis.

"Any funding from the Department is warmly welcomed and will certainly strengthen the ongoing efforts by localised initiatives to address the issue. Council will continue to work with all stakeholders to deliver an effective and targeted strategy based on the learnings obtained during the pandemic."

Members of Council's Health and Community Committee will today discuss Council's plans to channel the funding into sustainable local initiatives building on existing interventions that are being delivered by community and voluntary organisations.

Council's Director of Health and Community, Karen McFarland, that it would help supplement both Christmas related initiatives and offer further support over the winter period until March.

A consultation process will help identify groups most in need of aid, including older people, people living with a disability, anyone who has lost income as a direct result of the pandemic and the clinically extremely vulnerable.

Workshops are currently being delivered by the Department for Communities to scope the potential of working with Council to further resource community interventions within the District Council area, through a further allocation of Community Support Funding.

The Department have also held consultation meetings with local Councils regarding additional programmes to help address wider issues around Covid-19, including isolation and mental health and wellbeing. The Warm, Well and Connected programme will target resources to Neighbourhood Renewal and areas considered to be at risk as identified by DfC to tackle Loneliness, Wellbeing issues and Fuel Poverty. Separate allocations from the Department will also be provided to the Rural Support Networks and the Healthy Living Centres under this programme. An indicative allocation of £60,378.78 has been provided by DfC in relation to the Warm, Well and Connected programme, with an allocation of £55k for a Volunteering Programme. ​

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