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Coronavirus: Praise for south Belfast grassroots community effort in getting food and other essentials to people in need

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Deirdre Hargey visits a food bank

Deirdre Hargey visits a food bank

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Deirdre Hargey visits a food bank

Grassroots groups and activists partnering to distribute food and essential items to vulnerable people have been praised.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey was speaking on a visit to a food distribution hub in south Belfast, where community groups have mobilised to help the elderly, asylum seekers, women in refuges and residents.

Ms Hargey said: "The community activism has been brilliant. It has really shown during the pandemic."

The minister was on a visit to the Holy Rosary Parish Centre, in the grounds of the Good Shepherd Church on the Ormeau Road.

Food and items such as nappies are bought or sent in by local residents and companies for distribution by members of the various organisations: Rosario Youth Club, Rosario FC, Bredagh GAC and Ormeau Road Boxing Club, and Rosetta Area Community Support.

Yesterday a minibus left the centre to deliver to elderly people in sheltered accommodation and to individual residents, while boxes were also picked up by Homeplus, which helps the homeless, migrant workers and asylum seekers.

This grassroots effort sprang entirely from the local community, said Stephen Haughey, manager of the Holy Rosary Parish Centre, who is at the heart of co-ordinating the distribution.

He said some 350 parcels were either distributed directly by the ad hoc partnership, or by others such as Homeplus, in recent weeks.

Ms Hargey said 17,000 parcels a week are being delivered across Northern Ireland to people, many of whom suffer from health conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to the virus and therefore must remain isolated.

The minister added that the IFA, GAA and Ulster Rugby are helping in the effort to deliver prescription medications to those who cannot leave their homes.

Belfast Telegraph