West Belfast leads the way with community response

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A huge effort will see more than 1,000 food parcels distributed across west Belfast in the coming days.

Andersonstown Social Club (‘the PD’) and Tullymore Community Centre in Andersonstown have come together to make up 1,100 emergency parcels for those isolated due to the coronavirus.

Food preparation took place at the Felons venue in west Belfast, where Sinn Féin’s Paul Maskey was among those who took part in putting together ready-meals for the vulnerable and elderly.

“The community response in West Belfast has been absolutely outstanding,” he said. “It is truly a community like no other.”

With the help of funding from Belfast City Council and the support from the PD, the centre was able to source supplies and make up parcels which will be distributed across Belfast.

Director Jim Girvan of the Tullymore Community Centre said 70-80 parcels were being prepared for each ward in the area.

“Andersonstown Social Club helped with negotiations with some big suppliers. Volunteers helped pack the bags. It was a collective effort.

“Some people are completely and utterly isolated. It’s been a real community effort at its core - all the groups are working together on it. Without doubt, people are thankful for it”.

Ciaran Beattie, a Sinn Féin councillor, is helping co-ordinate the operation at the Andersonstown Social Club, where a range of West Belfast community groups including the Clonard Residents Association, the Frank Gillen Centre, the Blackie Community Group are involved in the efforts to distribute the packs.

He said: “There’s been £120,000 from Belfast City Council which has been shared across the four quarters of the city and at the Andersonstown Social Club there’s been a hub created where community groups are coming together to take 1,000 bags with £30 worth of essentials in each.

“There’s been an incredible response from all the groups involved with a database drawn up of people who are self-isolating, or older or disabled, in each Council Ward and groups from each Ward targetting the right people.

“There’s protocols in place too with masks and gloves work by everyone and the bag being left at the door then a knock on the door and a few steps back.

“The big question is what does the future hold and getting plans in place to sustain this if need be.”

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