WITH the Covid-19 crisis tightening its grip, the Short Strand community is going the extra mile to help the elderly and most vulnerable in the East Belfast district.

Community leader Mairéad O’Donnell from the Short Strand Partnership said locals have been planning for weeks how the community would cope during the crisis.

“We set up our own task force in the area a number of weeks ago to see how we could approach this,” she explained.

“We wanted to make sure we had everything in place at local level.

“We identified elderly, vulnerable and isolated people in the area first and foremost and over 200 food parcels are going out weekly."

Mairéad said local residents are pulling together in face of the pandemic. 

“There is great community spirit. People can see we have responded well to the crisis and that we are trying to help everyone in the area. Just last week, we delivered 200 Easter packs to every household with a child under the age of seven. It was really well received.

“We have also been working with St Vincent de Paul for those in financial hardship to seek them help to purchase things like gas and electricity while they are waiting on Universal Credit to come through.”

Mairead is particularly grateful for the army of volunteers that came forward to help others.

“We have had great support so far with a band of volunteers helping out and we want to see that support continue as we move into these most crucial weeks. We couldn’t do it without volunteers. As soon as we put a call out, we were inundated with people who wanted to help out in whatever way they could."

Damien Bryan from the Short Strand Community Forum added: “We would also like to reiterate if anybody needs help or support at this crucial time to contact us.

“You can text a name and address to our dedicated phone line for support services in the area on 07930493945.”

You can keep up-to-date with the Covid-19 community effort in the area on the Short Strand Community Forum Facebook page.

Video by Thomas McMullan