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Councillors go out on the streets over festive period

Helping the city’s homeless

By Francesca Ryan

As festive shoppers converged on the town in search of presents, our local representatives were taking time out to provide a vital lifeline to the city’s more vulnerable citizens at Christmas time.

Led by Belfast Lord Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile, a team from Sinn Féin travelled around different centres distributing winter warmer packs for OAPs and blankets for the homeless.

At St Peter’s Welcome Centre Upper Falls Councillor Matt Garrett explained the initiative.

“At the start of December, we recognised we were coming up to this period and as a council group we decided we should do something for people who may need help at this time,” he said.

“The result is that we secured 177 winter warmer packs for our OAPs and 400 blankets for the homeless.  This is a vital initiative and we are conscious we should reach all the parts of Belfast, we are councillors for certain areas but we are also councillors for the entire city.”

The Lord Mayor, who later travelled on to Ardmonagh Family Centre in Turf Lodge, said it was important to support all of the city’s citizens.



“Christmas isn’t always a good time for everyone and I’m very conscious that we need to support people who need help at this time,” he said.  “This initiative will hopefully show those people who need help that we are here to support them in any way we can.”

Eddie Rooney, CEO of the Public Health Agency, highlighted the strength of the initiative.

“It is the responsibility of the PHA to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone but there is a particular concern for our most vulnerable citizens,” he said.

“In the cold winter, something as simple as a blanket can improve someone’s quality of life or give them a chance of surviving.

“We are happy to work closely with Belfast City Council and the voluntary community organisations in providing this vital lifeline to the local community.”

The team has also secured a further 500 winter warmer packs which will be distributed in 2012.

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