‘Help at Hand’ for most vulnerable as project runs for another year

Thursday, 22 December 2016

A LOCAL project aimed at helping Strabane's most vulnerable people through the winter months will run for another year, the Neighbourhood Health Improvement Project (NHIP) has confirmed.

'Help at Hand' (HAH) - which has been running for five years - aims to assist vulnerable residents within the Strabane Neighbourhood Renewal area to ensure that they are safe, secure and warm in their own homes.

Winter health packs are distributed around the communities to those who are at high risk over the colder months. This year, 100 of those boxes have been created and will be distributed around the communities to those who are less fortunate.

The packs are made up of warm clothing, gloves, thermal underwear, a hat, warm socks, a blanket, tins of biscuits and some non-perishable goods as well as essential toiletries for when it snows and becomes too dangerous for those with mobility issues to venture outside their home in severe weather conditions.

The project was re-launched at Strabane & District Caring Services offices on Bridge Street last week with representatives from a number of community in attendance.

Strabane & District Caring Services in association with community groups in the town delivers the project which is funded by Department for Communities, where volunteers from community groups will be on hand to provide help to people in the Neighbourhood Renewal Area. This may be calling to ensure they are okay or simply de-icing footpaths so they can get out of their home.

For this year's project, Paul Diamond from Diamond Corrugated provided the boxes that the goods were put into and which were beautifully decorated by the volunteers from the Pulse and Strabane Food Bank.

Kieran Kennedy, managing director from O'Neills donated thermal underwear, hats, gloves, and warm socks - a truly magnificent gift to the people from the area.

Craft Training provided tins of biscuits and Strabane Food Bank donated the non-perishable goods as well as their time to filling and completing the boxes along with Wendy McGlinchey from Strabane & District Caring Services.

The rise in fuel prices for gas and electricity is affecting those on low income to the degree that they have to choose whether to purchase food or heat their homes, so a special word of thanks to Carmel Boyce, chief executive of Customized Training Services has contributed £1,500 towards the electricity and again Strabane Food Bank who have contributed £500 towards the oil stamps.

"We express our thanks to Derry City and Strabane District Council along with the PSNI Strabane for their contributions of calendars and pens," a spokesperson added.

Speaking at the launch event, Gerard Harkin, manager at Strabane & District Caring Services explained: "The winter health boxes are designed to keep people warm in the colder months and are particularly welcomed by those at the receiving end.

"It is our intentions to ensure that those at risk are warm and feel secure in their own homes over the winter period, this coming together of community groups in the area is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when working in partnership and collaborating for the greater good.

"On a last note please can I ask that you look out for friends, relatives and neighbours who could be at risk during the cold weather - especially the elderly and those who are ill. It is important to prevent people from becoming cold in the first place. Prevention is always easier than cure.

"Use a blanket or shawl to keep yourself warm when sitting down. Put the blanket over your knees or shoulders to help you keep warm when watching TV, reading a book or lying down to rest. I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year from your local community groups within the Strabane Neighbourhood Region."

For more information or help you may require, please contact you nearest community group: Gerard Harkin; Strabane & District Caring Services Bridge Street 02871 884986, Gina Devine; Fountain Street Community Development Association 028 71885100, Ivan Barr; Melmount Community Forum 028 71880878, Damien Gavigan; Lisnafin-Ardnalee Trust 028 71880658, Aodhan Harkin; Sigersons GAC 02871 384426, Jarlath McNulty; Cairde Ex-Prisoners Group 02871 886824 and Ursula Gallagher; Strabane Community Project on 02871 883102.


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