Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister in the Executive Office, Declan Kearney has praised the outstanding work of volunteers with the ‘Caring for Your Community’ project based in Toome.
Following a visit to the project along with local Councillor Henry Cushinan, the South Antrim MLA said:
“I was delighted to have the opportunity to pay a visit to the ‘Caring for Your Community’ project based in the TIDAL premises in Toome and to get the latest update from coordinator, Una Johnston about the fantastic community spirit which is delivering much needed relief to those in need in the wider Toome area.
“This impressive grassroots initiative draws support from a wide range of community and sporting organisations including, TIDAL, the local Men’s Shed, Cargin and Moneyglass GACs, and many individual volunteers who have been working round the clock to assist those most impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“The combined efforts of up to twenty-five volunteers ensures 150 hot meals and food boxes are delivered every week, with the support of South Antrim Community Transport, alongside two prescription runs every day. These regular services have been complemented by the work of local group, The Men’s Shed, in producing scrubs and gowns for our frontline workers.
At the same time the project has provided beautiful flower boxes from Duneane Allotment to homes throughout Toome. These and other potted floral displays can be purchased at a very modest cost by contacting Úna Johnston directly on 028 7965 9199. All funds generated are channelled back into Covid-19 community response efforts being coordinated by ‘Caring for Your Community’.
“During our socially distanced meeting with Una Johnston, Cllr Henry Cushinan and I were pleased to make a donation of surgical face masks to the project as a modest token of appreciation for everything being done locally. Úna outlined the project’s successes, but also the challenges faced in helping those most in need in the community.
“One stark reality which I am increasingly learning about in my Ministerial role is the level of hidden poverty within our society, which is now being exposed by this health emergency. Through its outreach work ‘Caring for Your Community’ has managed to identify people suffering from poverty and isolation, who would otherwise have remained undetected. Thankfully those members of the community now know they can depend on support from a locally based network committed to doing its best on their behalf.
“I want to record my deep appreciation and thanks to everyone working with ‘Caring for Your Community’. Their work represents all that is best about the spirit and endeavour of how community activists and volunteers have responded to the Covid-19 emergency across Ireland, and especially in small rural areas where isolation and need can sometimes be most acute.”