Newly-appointed deputy Lord Mayor Paul McCusker has visited Bradley Manor in North Belfast — one of the care homes hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Crumlin Road home lost six residents to the coronavirus in April at the height of the surge but the situation at the home has since stabilised.
During his visit the deputy Lord Mayor met with RAF veteran Bobby Foster who seranaded him with Danny Boy.
The SDLP man paid tribute to local key frontline workers.
Despite the care home still being in lockdown, spirits are much better and Paul was greeted enthusiastically by residents — and staff. Normality is slowing returning but staff remain dressed in full PPE.
Paul was delighted to see staff and residents in high spirits after many difficult days and weeks.
“My year as Deputy Mayor is all about compassion and care. I wanted to say thank you to the people who have went above and beyond during the pandemic," he said.
“The situation in care homes had a real negative effect on staff, residents and their families. Unfortunately by the time staff had the right amount of PPE, it was too late for many care homes.
“Staff at Bradley Manor told me of days when they cried and days when they laughed. They need to be applauded for their hard work because it was such a difficult time for them all."
The Deputy Lord Mayor said the battle with Covid was far from over.
“I would still be concerned about life post-Covid. There will be an increase in poverty with more people losing their jobs as well as an increase in mental health patients. We have to ensure the right support and resources is in place for them.”
Paul also took time to visit a number of other local key organisations including North Belfast Advice Partnership (NBAP), Ardoyne Association, TAMHI and youth workers from Ardoyne Youth Club.
“It’s been incredible to see and hear of all the amazing work and to hear their plans for the next few months,” he added.
“There is lots of positive work to build on and they need the support to continue to provide these vital services in the community.”