BALLYCASTLE Foodbank are getting ready to pilot a new scheme which would see those in need receive a care package when discharged from Hospital.
The 'Hospital to Home' scheme, which would be aimed at those who live in remote areas or on their own, will be rolled out later this month.
Eleanor Hayes, Ballycastle Foodbank Co-Ordinator told The Chronicle: “Do we really need a Foodbank in Ballycastle?” is a question often asked of us. Many people can't believe that anyone would need to visit a Foodbank in 2019. The reality is that the Foodbank network has grown to cover 440 in the UK in recent years with 38 presently in NI.”
The Ballycastle Foodbank is a project initiated and overseen by Ballycastle Church Action, a group comprising the three clergy in the town and three members from each church. They meet every month and co-ordinate other projects such as Good Morning Ballycastle.
Eleanor continued: “The project started modestly in 2014 as a satellite unit of the Vineyard Foodbank, Coleraine, when we were situated in the Thyme and Co. café on Wednesday evenings.
“The owners Tom and Eimear Mullan kindly allowed us to use their premises for three years until we became established and then moved to Dalriada House in 2017. “In 2018 we decided to register as a Trussell Trust stand-alone Foodbank and were asked by the Trust to cover the Ballycastle and Glens area.” (as indicated in the map)
This last year has seen an amazing growth in the level of need in the area.
Eleanor added: “We partner with many agencies but especially the local healthcare professionals who distribute Foodbank vouchers as they see the need.
“Our physical presence on the Dalriada Hospital site has been of particular benefit and good relationships have been established to progress the work of the Foodbank.
“We are commencing a 'Hospital to Home' food box in January where those who might live on their own and in remote areas are given a small box of essential food items on discharge from hospital.
“The need for such a scheme was identified and is being piloted to see if this is another way to support our community.”
The support and good will of the local communities in Ballycastle, Cushendall and the Glens has been overwhelming, according to the Eleanor.
She added: “The local churches and schools and especially the Ballycastle Co-op have been so encouraging and have enabled us to feed over 300 people last year with a three day supply of emergency food.
“If supplies run low of particular food items, these seem to appear within days at the local collection points as we pass on messages through church bulletins. God has been so good and blessed this work in so many ways.
“The role of the 20 volunteers is vital in meeting those in need every week, talking with them, stocking shelves, collecting food from the collection points and generally keeping the Foodbank functioning. We are so grateful for this band of faithful people.
“This work would not be possible without the amazing support and kind donations from the whole community and we want to say thank you to everyone.”
The Foodbank is open every Wednesday afternoon 2.00 to 3.00pm. Those who need help can get vouchers from many sources in the area; eg the clergy, social services, Health Visitors, Solas, Good Morning Ballycastle, Surestart, St Vincent De Paul. A voucher entitles someone to three days supply of food.