Food bank donates over 250 parcels in Downpatrick

Food bank donates over 250 parcels in Downpatrick

8 January 2020

FOUNTAIN Food Bank in Downpatrick gave out 253 food parcels to local families in the run-up to Christmas.

Volunteer co-ordinator Shirley Lennon said that while the food bank gave out 262 parcels for Christmas 2018, this year’s effort actually sustained more people during the season, feeding 770 people over two to three days.

She said: “In one way it’s good to know that the parcels have been given out but it another way, its horrific as that demand is still there.”

Mrs Lennon believes that demand for help has again increased on last year.

“Although we won’t have the final numbers until the end of March, we have already given out 569 parcels to date this year,” she explained.

“In 2016/18, we gave out 648 parcels, in 2017/18, it was 734 parcels and this jumped to 831 parcels in 2018/19.”

“We believe that the increase is partly down to the fact that we are working more effectively in partnership with other statutory organiations who refer people to us and proactively ordered parcels for Christmas for families they are working with.

“We also get referrals from organisations such as MACS (which supports children and young people) and St Vincent De Paul and believe the fact that social workers are now working with GPs in Downpatrick in multidisciplinary teams is also helping to ensure that help is going to where it is needed most.”

Mrs Lennon said that some of the people who received parcels were in genuine need of a temporary helping hand.

She said: “We helped one mother and her family as they were visiting and supporting a family member in hospital who has cancer. As the family has no car and survive on benefits, money was being used to pay for transport to the hospital.

“Then on another day, we were approached by a very distressed woman who literally had nothing at home as her marriage had just broken up. We were able to give her a parcel as well as signpost her to where she could get help for her mental health.”

Mrs Lennon added that the team of 45 volunteers were working flat-out in December to make up the parcels — with the help of three Ulster Rugby team players at one point.

However, she added that the effort would not have been possible without the generosity of local donors.

“We have had so much help this year and it ranges for local businesses giving us food stuff, people leaving in cash donations, people coming with bags of groceries and even one shopper who donated an entire trolley full of shopping from Asda,” said Mrs Lennon.

“We would like to thank each and every one of them for their generosity and continued support.”

Fountain Food Bank is run from Downpatrick Presbyterian Church Hall, Fountain Crescent in Downpatrick. 

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