Some of Belfast’s most recognised faces including comedian and actor Tim McGarry, boxer James Tennyson and local legend May McFettridge have joined forces in a short community-led film produced by Translink to support the on-going fight against Coronavirus.
The bilingual film released today asks young people to keep social distancing particularly at bus & train stops and on-board public transport.
The call is simple – ‘Play Your Part and Don’t Be A Melter’. Help the country recover from the crisis and protect everyone in the community, especially the elderly and most vulnerable. The important message is part of Translink’s wider ‘Let’s go safely together’ campaign.
More than 20 local people participated in the short film appeal with representatives from community organisations including Antrim GAA, Colin Gaels GAC, Sally Gardens Community Centre and Celtic Boys and Girls who all shared their own thoughts on the importance of the film’s messages.
Said community favourite John Linehan AKA May McFettridge: “I know it can be hard for young people to keep up social distancing, especially as time goes on, but you have to think about everyone in the community. People like your granny and granda… not a young thing like me of course!
“On a serious note, it is frightening for older people in the community to encounter groups at bus stops or on-board the Glider. Maybe consider walking to the park and kicking a ball around or painting a fence at the back of the house for your ma instead. And remember - keep your distance and respect your elders!”
Ian Campbell of Translink said he was impressed by the enthusiastic response of local youth to the stay safe, play your part message.
“A big thank you to all our cast for helping us deliver important public safety messages, he said. "Our services have played an essential role throughout the Covid-19 crisis and remain vital in the local recovery effort so it’s crucial we keep public transport safe for everyone who needs it.
“As more people use the bus and train again, we want to reassure them and this has been an excellent collaboration with the community that illustrates how people can travel safely by taking simple steps like social distancing and wearing a face covering.”
Added comedian Tim McGarry: “What we all need to do is to show a little bit of responsibility. Keep your distance. Be nice to people. Everyone is under a little bit of pressure. Take it easy.
“Keep looking after the neighbours, keep the social distancing going, keep the sanitisation going. And most importantly keep safe. We will be talking about this 20 years from now telling our grandchildren what we did to play our part!”
Local boxer James Tennyson says he's been focusing on his training during the lockdown. “Throughout lockdown I’ve keep my head down training home and used this time to improve my game," he said. "Between training and being home with my son, I’ve kept myself busy! I got involved in this initiative because it is important to get the message out there to young people to keep their group sizes down, don’t overload the buses and keep up social distancing. You’ll be looking out for the elderly and your family at home.”
Joanie McCoubrey from West Belfast is the star of her grandson's Tiktok channel dedicated to his "mad Irish granny".
“It’s been very hard. I’ve been in the house from the 14 March, and I haven’t been out the door. It has really gotten me down. People need to listen to what we are being told. This is never going to go away unless we act now.”
Comedian Aaron Butler says young people gathering in groups at bus stops and on buses and the Glider is a serious issue.
“The advice I would give to them is to have a little consideration for the older generation because eventually one day, you are going to be them! In these times which are so unpredictable, we don’t have all the answers, so we have to take extra precautions because no one really knows. And it’s a good thing to be considerate for other people, especially for the elderly, vulnerable and our key workers. Maintain the distance and make sure we don’t spread this virus to anyone!”
Young Gaeilgeoir Emer Enright, who has a starring bilingual part in the film, says she's been heartened by the community pulling together. “What has really stood out for me throughout this pandemic is the power of people working together. Even though we need to stay apart we still have a very strong community, supporting one another through this hard time. We all have a responsibility to protect one another. And as the Irish proverb goes, ‘Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine,’ which means ‘In the shadow of each other, we live’, meaning, we rely on each other for shelter. It’s important we all stand together.”
That's a view echoed by Antrim GAA player Saoirse Tennyson: “It’s important to remind people that the virus has not gone away. In our community a lot of elderly people reply on public transport and we need to keep them safe."