Belfast Charitable Society doubles its efforts to feed hundreds of children this winter
No one thought a year on that the impact of the cost-of-living crisis would be worse on families across Northern Ireland (NI), particularly north Belfast. Already one of the most deprived areas in NI, continued pressures on finances has made the situation dire, as families struggle to provide the basics.
David Watters, Chair of the Belfast Charitable Society, commented “Last year, for the first time, the Belfast Charitable Society agreed to fund school meals in post primary schools across Northern Ireland to help alleviate some of the financial pressures on families most in need. We hoped that this year the need would not be as great again, but unfortunately it is. Basic essentials like food, heating, warm winter coats and shoes are now just out of reach for some, due to the continued hike in costs of living. It is desperately sad to think that these are the items that the Belfast Charitable Society was funding over 250 years ago as well”.
Today, the Belfast Charitable Society has announced that it will double its funding to support the provision of school meals again this year, and will be focussing all its efforts in north Belfast. David explained:
“This year the Society will be supporting food programmes in 25 primary schools and seven post primary schools in north Belfast, and will make more funding available. This will allow schools to provide food for children who are experiencing hunger, as part of a breakfast or lunch club. We are aware that the need is great in this part of Belfast, so we will also be doing all we can to continue to tackle disadvantage through other initiatives and by raising awareness of the issues in the hope that other funders are able to respond quickly to the need too.”
Ashleigh Galway Principal of Currie Primary School commented “In our school population, more than 75% are entitled to free school meals. With the recent cuts we are struggling to ‘plug the gaps’ for our families in the way we used to. In addition, we have observed that the number of children arriving to school not ready to learn has increased significantly since the covid pandemic. This situation is made worse as we are also struggling to provide many additional supports and resources needed. This funding from Belfast Charitable Society will allow us to offer a snack to the children free of charge for the month of January or free school meals for all during this month, which I know is a particularly hard time for families managing on low incomes”.
Speaking on behalf of the schools, Bernadette Lyttle, Principal of Blessed Trinity College, commented “The school community in north Belfast is so grateful for this support again. As we edge closer to the colder weather, our teaching staff are already fearful for the welfare of the pupils in their classes, who are arriving hungry to school, unable to concentrate, distracted and above all else clearly worried about how their parents / guardians are going to pay for food, clothes and shoes over the coming weeks and months ahead. This funding will support hundreds of children, and so in turn hundreds of families, and will undoubtedly make a huge difference. On behalf of all of them, we want to thank Belfast Charitable Society for their continued efforts in tackling this growing need.
The Belfast Charitable Society aim to have funding out to each of the schools by the end of October 2023.