Belfast Telegraph

PUP in call to aid elderly as temperatures plunge

by Fiona Rutherford

New PUP leader Brian Ervine brought the party onto the streets of east Belfast last week — on a mission to help vulnerable residents.

The east Belfast branch of the party came to the aid of stranded pensioners by braving the snow and ice to deliver essential groceries, collect prescriptions and pay bills for those who were unable to leave their homes.

Around a dozen party volunteers joined Mr Ervine as they trekked the streets off the Newtownards Road to check on pensioners and vulnerable residents who had been trapped indoors. With snow and ice covering most pavements and temperatures dipping to -5C, many of them had no choice but to ration food, as it was too dangerous to leave their homes.

Staff from the East Belfast Mission joined the PUP volunteers to make up food parcels of essentials like bread and milk and they spent Friday afternoon delivering them to residents, mindful that the weekend forecasts were for further freezing conditions.

Over 40 residents benefited and many said it was the first visit they had had since the cold weather had set in. Many asked the volunteers to pay gas, electric and TV licence bills which they had been unable to pay themselves, while others had prescriptions collected from their local chemist.

Mr Ervine urged anyone with OAPs living nearby to pay them a visit and see if there was anything they needed.

“We've just had the coldest November in 25 years, which has caught many people off guard,” he said.

“The pavements in and around east Belfast have been treacherous with snow and ice for the past week and many frail or vulnerable residents would not have been able to leave their homes for fear of falling.”

He urged others to follow the PUP lead, and added: “Even if they don't need anything, at least they'll know someone is looking out for them.”

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