Image: Darren,The Larder, left, with Mary McManus EBIAC, Cllr Peter McReynolds and MLA Chris Lyttle from the Alliance Party
An advice centre and a food bank have joined forces to raise the growing issue of poverty in east Belfast.
The East Belfast Independent Advice Centre (EBIAC) on Templemore Avenue and the Larder Food Bank in St Christopher’s Church on Mersey Street are to take part in the inaugural 5km Connswater Run on August 20 to raise funds and to highlight the issue of poverty in the area.
EBIAC provides free, confidential and independent advice from its premises in the East Belfast Network Centre on a range of issues including, social security, housing and employment rights.
The Larder provides food parcels to those in need..
Mary McManus, manager of EBIA, said, "Not everyone is aware of the problems with poverty in east Belfast.
“EBIAC has been providing advice in east Belfast since 2000. Before 2007 we very rarely had occasion to refer people for charitable assistance due to hardship but since the economic crash 10 years ago, we have seen this increase steadily every year.
"Prior to 2007, there were no food banks; there are now two dedicated food banks in east Belfast. Due to a combination of factors, which includes social security cuts that negatively impact both working and non-working people, low wages and zero hour contracts and the rising cost of living, we regularly have to refer people to the Larder Food Bank as they do not have any food.
"East Belfast really is a tale of two cities. A briefing prepared by the NI Assembly Research and Information Team in 2015 showed that where EBIAC is based in the Ballymacarret area, 71 per cent of primary school children receive free school meals while in the Stormont area just four per cent of school children receive free school meals."
The Larder supports 45 families per week with food parcels.
In Dundonald there is a Trussel Trust Food Bank. There are also churches in the area providing hardship support to members of their congregation.
A group of organisations, including EBIAC, The Larder, St VdePaul, Sure Start and Eastside Partnership have formed a working group called the, “Scaffolding Project”, to provide a more strategic approach to supporting people experiencing poverty and to raise awareness of the fact that such poverty exists.”
Alliance Party MLA Chris Lyttle and Cllr Peter McReynolds are supporting the two organisations by running in the event along with two other colleagues.
If you would like more information please contact Mary McManus on 90735690 or via email email@example.com.
If you would like to make a donation, you can do so here, https://mydonate.bt.com/events/scaffoldingproject