Council hails success of the partnership approach in delivering the Food Parcel Scheme during Covid-19
31st July 2020
The Food Parcel Scheme, developed by the Department for Communities and administered in this area by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, ended on Friday 31 July 2020 after more than 3 months. The scheme was implemented to provide emergency support in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, to residents who had been notified to shield by their GPs, who could not access food or could not access local support networks due to the impacts of Coronavirus and the associated mitigation measures during the lockdown period.
Speaking about the scheme, the Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Chris Smyth said “Over the duration of the operation of the scheme, more than 17,000 food parcels were distributed across the district providing a lifeline to those who were most vulnerable at this time. The delivery of the scheme, however, wouldn’t have been possible without the help and support of our partners. Fermanagh and Omagh District Council supports the ethos of working in partnership with other key stakeholders to deliver initiatives which greatly improve the quality of life of the people of the district. The success of the Food Parcel Scheme exemplifies the benefits of such a collaborative working approach. I am grateful to our partner organisations, Fermanagh Community Transport, Easilink, Advice NI, DAERA, the WHSCT, the local Community and Voluntary organisations and of course our own Council staff for all their hard work in ensuring that those who were most in need received this valuable assistance at such a difficult and challenging time.”
Speaking about the food parcel scheme, an Easilink spokesperson said;
“Our staff and volunteers at Easilink Community Transport were delighted to be able to help Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to deliver the Food Parcels over the last 4 months. When our Community Transport services stopped due to COVID-19, as a local charity we were keen to help out anywhere we could as a part of the phenomenal efforts across our local communities. Delivering the Food Parcels to those who were shielding meant that we could continue to make a positive impact on the lives of those who needed support during the lock-down. We were well placed with our minibuses and drivers available to help with the distribution of the Food Parcels. We also had support from Sure Start and the Red Cross in Omagh who’s staff and volunteers made a significant contribution to our combined efforts over the 4 months. It was a pleasure to work with Marcella and Pearl from Fermanagh and Omagh District Council who had the very difficult task of co-ordinating the referrals and delivery routes. Working in partnerships with the Council staff and our friends in Fermanagh Community Transport, we successfully delivered over 1,000 food parcels per week across the entire Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area.
Reinforcing that sentiment, a representative from Fermanagh Community Transport said;
“Fermanagh Community Transport is proud to have been able to play a key role in the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic within Fermanagh developed by the Department for Communities and co-ordinated locally by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council. During the past number of months, we have delivered 1000’s of emergency food parcels to hundreds of individuals and families right across Fermanagh. We have come to know many of these people by name as we have been delivering the boxes on a weekly basis. The feedback our drivers have received on the doorsteps and the many cards and letters we have received speak to the enormous value placed on the receipt of the boxes and the very personal and caring way which this has been done by all involved. The relationships developed between the drivers and the people we have been serving has been especially rewarding. Many of the individuals and families have remarked on how they have looked forward to seeing and having a yarn with the drivers. Often, the driver was one of only a limited number of contacts or often the only contact throughout the full lockdown period many people had. We sincerely hope we have brought some comfort, assurance and compassion in collaboration with FODC and Easilink to those we have served during this time through this powerful programme of support.
Working with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and our sister organisation Easilink in Omagh and the incredible staff within both of these organisations has been an incredibly rewarding and positive experience and a real and genuine expression of what can be achieved through real working together for the benefit of our wider community. The effectiveness of the relationships and communication was superb which directly contributed to a rapid and robust response. Fermanagh Community Transport as an organisation would hope that we will continue to work hand in glove as we journey through this unprecedented time, supporting and enabling individuals, families and communities right across Fermanagh and Omagh District to deal with and overcome the challenges they face at this time and to experience some degree of relative normality.”
While the Department for Communities Food Parcel Scheme has now ended, residents who still require assistance have been given advice on how to access additional help and support locally.
For more information or to access support contact NI Covid-19 Community Helpline: Freephone 0808 802 0020, by texting: ACTION to 81025, via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the website at www.adviceni.net.
Support and advice is available from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday – Friday.