Throughout the COVID-19 health pandemic, there have been many examples of our communities responding to the exceptional circumstances to help those in need. Here, Dermott Taggart shares his story.

Some Omagh men, including myself, have been spending our time during lockdown shopping for struggling local families. We initially wanted to provide food for the local food banks but decided to also put some money towards PPE materials when we saw the support we were getting from the community. We have been using social media to keep exposure up online and to raise awareness of the local food banks. The support of the local community has been overwhelming. Some have been donating food while others have been digging deep into their pockets. We also received donations from local bars and businesses. We have received approximately £12,000 in total with donating now on hold.

We’ve managed to recruit some local musicians and DJs also. Going live on Facebook and asking for donations has been a really effective way of getting the community on board. I’ve also been going live on Facebook myself the past few weeks raising money while playing a few tunes for everyone staying at home during the weekends!

‘Feeding Omagh’s Foodbanks’ have also stocked up other Community Food Banks across Omagh town and have supplied a considerable amount of PPE to Frontline workers. Deliveries were made to Strathroy Community Association, GK House, Hospital Road Community Association, MACCA, CKS, and many, many more.

As well as our foodbanks our aim is to provide as much PPE as we possibly can to prevent further spread of COVID-19 and to assist the hard-working people on the frontline and the residents of both nursing/care homes and hospitals to stay safe. PPE equipment including shields, surgical masks, gloves and hand sanitiser have been supplied to a number of organisations such as Railway Court, Omagh Hospital & Primary Care Complex, Irvinestown Health Centre, Knockmoyle Lodge, Mencap, Harold McCauley House, Three Rivers Care Home, Hillcrest Care Facility, Granard Residential House, Woodbank House, Elm Ward and Lime Ward in the Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital, Mulhern Close Residential Home and Springlawn Group of Care Homes.