Cllr Rachel Woods welcomes a successful final attempt to establish financial assistance in Ards and North Down
The Green Party NI’s representative for Holywood and Clandeboye has welcomed a successful final attempt to establish financial assistance for those who need it in Ards and North Down.
Cllr Rachel Woods said, ‘ A report was brought back to Council last night which recommended that Council noted its contents and recognised the financial situation being faced currently, along with a number of options outlined by Officers. I submitted an amendment tonight after a Special Council meeting was held in January on fuel poverty and hardship in the Borough, to a proposal by the UUP to establish a fund of £50,000 to be made available from current reserves for a funding stream to be used by local foodbanks and other partners in our Borough, if willing. This is not a silver bullet, nor will it help everyone, but it is a start.
The Green Party Councillor said, ‘Anyone reading the report presented to the Council this evening who is not feeling ashamed and disgusted at what has become of our so called developed society needs to take a look at themselves. We heard that lots of people who are asking for help across our Borough’s support organisations work full time and fall outside the criteria for free school meals and don’t get help with childcare costs, we heard that demand for Bangor Foodbank has increased 88%. There has been an increase in illegal money lending from organised crime groups, the fact that we have warm spaces operating, there are increasing levels of loneliness because of the cost of living by younger and older age group, that poverty exists in Ards and North Down - of course it does, it always has.
I do not think that Council should only signpost, or rely on other funding streams to help people in this current crisis but step up. We have a lot to do to sort this out long term, but in the short term if we can help as a council I think that we should, even in a small way to identified partners. In an ideal world more would be distributed, to community organisations supporting people, however the appetite was not there this time.
I thank all members for for supporting this third attempt by the Green Party NI to introduce this to try and help those who need it, even in the very shortest of terms.”