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Belfast food bank forced to move premises to cope with increased demand

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Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon visiting the food bank at Holy Cross Boys’ in north Belfast

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon visiting the food bank at Holy Cross Boys’ in north Belfast

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Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon visiting the food bank at Holy Cross Boys’ in north Belfast

A group of 40 volunteers are packing around 250 food parcels each day - six days a week - at a cross-community food bank established in a north Belfast school.

Ligoniel Improvement Association, which has been running a food bank for the past seven years, was forced to relocate to larger premises to cope with a rise in demand due to the Covid-19 crisis.

It is now operating, with the support of other organisations, out of Holy Cross Boys' Primary School where yesterday volunteers received a visit from Department for Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, who helped pack parcels.

Maria Morgan, who is CEO of Ligoniel Improvement Association, said the cost of producing the parcels has jumped from £400 a day to around £1,500, due to the increased demand on its services.

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She explained that the association is reliant on funding from various bodies but does also accept food donations from the public.

Maria revealed the food parcels are tailored to the needs of the service users, from older people to young families, those who are homeless as well as single people living in the north Belfast area.

The parcels include fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables, as well cleaning and hygiene products, and grocery staples such as bread and butter.

Maria praised the help of the volunteers, some of whom have themselves been furloughed.

"Their work and efforts have been absolutely immense," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"We have drivers, packers ... we have all walks of life of people coming in."

Maria explained how volunteers were coping well in operating within social-distancing guidelines.

"With the level of demand we're experiencing a rise in the need of support. That's why we've launched a JustGiving campaign," she continued. "Just last week we made up 105 parcels just for older people alone."

She added: "Our volunteers have found this to be humbling. When they've dropped off parcels, some people don't want to take it, even though they need it.

"Right now because of the crisis, we're working six days a week.

"I'm starting at 9am and finishing around 7.30-8pm."

To make a donation to the food bank, visit www.justgiving.com/Ligonielvillage

Belfast Telegraph


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