Council gives £50,000 to charities as part of hardship pledge
04 December 2020
Derry City and Strabane District Council today unanimously supported a proposal to allocate £50,000 between two local charities as part of its wider commitment to helping to alleviate hardship experienced by local people.
The recommendation to support the joint Christmas campaign led by St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army, was made by Council's Welfare Reform Working Group, and came before a reconvened meeting of Full Council today. It was also agreed at the meeting that Council would commence the process to seek an additional £50,000 towards hardship support, including writing to the NI Executive.
Earlier in the week members of Council's Governance and Strategic Planning Committee heard an update from the Working Group which stressed the urgency for some form of intervention in the run up to Christmas, with plans to explore further partnerships and possible interventions in the New Year.
At today's virtual meeting Members formally approved the funding and also called on local businesses to lend their support where they can to local charities such as the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul who are working to alleviate hardship and who have been running this joint cross community Christmas campaign for the past 40 years.
Welcoming today's decision, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Brian Tierney said he was delighted to see Council being proactive on behalf of those in serious need at this very difficult time. "Everyone is aware of the additional financial pressures of the Christmas period and especially this year as we navigate our way through the economic and social effects of the Covid 19 pandemic. The Welfare Reform Group on behalf of Council considered how best to get immediate support to those in need, and it was regarded as a matter of urgency that we take some form of immediate action within our remit as a Council to help those in difficulty," he explained.
"This is obviously a much wider issue and one that will require careful consideration and the Council is committed to working in partnership on how we collectively can address hardship in the longer term. There are many community and voluntary organisations already providing exceptional support and the best way forward is to build on our partnership approach and utilise the first class expertise already there. We do not want to replicate the good work that is already been done, but rather reinforce and support that work as resources allow."
Following the October Council meeting, the Welfare Reform Working Group was requested to examine the feasibility of establishing a hardship fund to support anyone in need, that complements and strengthens the various strands of aid being distributed through government departments and local charities.
Council members voted unanimously in favour of a two stage approach to approach whereby in stage 1 immediate support could be given to people in hardship and stage 2 would seek to establish partnerships with local organisations in the development and delivery of a hardship fund, working with external partners including other Councils over the coming months. Council is also working closely with community partners to design and co deliver a dedicated food poverty strategy, the Access to Food programme, supported by the Department for Communities.
Members took the opportunity to praise the work that is currently being done by Local Community Growth Partnerships, Neighbourhood Partnership Boards, Advice Services, local Food Banks and charities and all the volunteers working tirelessly to address the growing need for advice and support at this time.