Food and fuel vouchers to ease cost of living crisis in Antrim and Newtownabbey

Food supply. Local Democracy Reporting Service (Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service)
Food supply. Local Democracy Reporting Service (Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service)

The borough council will distribute funding through direct awards to established community partners delivering food relief and an open funding call to constituted community groups that can contribute to providing additional food relief.

The council has been awarded £306,432 by the Department for Communities (DfC) for a hardship scheme. This funding is intended to support residents experiencing food and fuel poverty assisted by community groups and organisations in the borough that provide relief.

DfC anticipates aid will be delivered through voucher schemes including food, fuel and electricity; food relief schemes such as social supermarkets, food banks, community fridges, holiday hunger schemes etc.

The Trussell Trust network in Northern Ireland says it has distributed 81,000 emergency food parcels during 2022/23, a rise of 29 per cent.

In April, Antrim Foodbank reported it has provided 6,004 emergency food parcels to people who couldn’t afford essentials in Antrim town during the previous 12 months, 2,804 of which went to children. In 2022, 38 tonnes of food were donated to Antrim Foodbank.

A social supermarket pilot scheme established in the borough in November last year distributed £57,000 worth of food vouchers in the run-up to Christmas.

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Speaking at a meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council on Tuesday evening, Airport Sinn Fein Councillor Annemarie Logue proposed that delivery of the Hardship Scheme be approved.

Her proposal was seconded by Threemilewater Alliance Cllr Julie Gilmour who said: “It is clear there is a lot of work that has gone into this.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter