Six staff from EUROSPAR Ballyhackamore have braved the cold during the World’s Biggest Sleepout at Stormont, ending another year of helping the homeless by the local retailer.

The team from the Community Supermarket joined millions of people from around the world to sleep under the stars during one of the coldest nights of the year, all in a bid to raise money and awareness of the homelessness situation in Belfast and beyond.

Marty Polly, store manager at EUROSPAR Ballyhackamore said one night of discomfort was nothing compared to what many people face every day; “the homelessness situation here, and across the country is dire, and by doing small activities like this, it will keep the issue in the minds of our local community.

“Any one of us could end up homeless, and we all need to do more to help. I’m very proud of my team here who came to me with the idea, and to be part of the Henderson Group which gives both time and donations to homeless organisations throughout the year.”

Indeed, Henderson Group which owns the EUROSPAR brand in Northern Ireland, has collaborated with various homelessness charities and initiatives throughout the year.

St. Patrick’s Soup Kitchen on Donegall Street, which recently reported demand for meals has risen tenfold since opening in 2017, is supported by EUROSPAR Glenwell and SPAR Kilwaughter. The team at Glenwell volunteer at the kitchen throughout the year and run various in-store fundraisers, while Kilwaughter recently held a clothing appeal for the organisation.

Earlier this month, Henderson’s Foodservice team prepared and served Christmas lunch for Simon Community at Stock Kitchen at St. George’s Market, while Henderson Wholesale donated to the organisation via their 24 Days of Christmas Sandwiches campaign with blogger Laura Ann Barr.

Laura Ann volunteered at the Simon Community Lunch at Stock, as well as taste testing a Christmas sandwich from a different outlet every day, including SPAR’s Classic Christmas Sandwich. The initiative encouraged followers to donate the cost of their lunchtime sandwiches to help the charity continue to provide shelter and support across NI.

Henderson Group are also a collection point for Cash for Kids’ Mission Christmas appeal and volunteers from the company even turned into Christmas elves to help sort toys at the charity’s depot ahead of the big day.

Bronagh Luke, Head of Corporate Marketing at Henderson Group said it is important for the Group, which employs over 4,000 across Northern Ireland, to give back all year but Christmas was a special time to make a difference; “As one of the biggest employers in the country, we have a huge responsibility to give back to various organisations and support initiatives throughout the year, such as the St. Patrick’s Soup Kitchen.

“While it’s a responsibility, we’re incredibly lucky to have some of the most passionate team members who truly care about helping those less fortunate. They volunteer their time to so many causes outside of our charitable partnerships, and we have hundreds signed up to payroll giving throughout the year. We’re very proud of the difference they make.”

Henderson Retail has also supported Hope Harbour Homeless Charity this year. The charity was set up to help those affected by homelessness in Belfast as well as Newtownards and Bangor, giving out essentials such as toiletries and clothing to as many as 70 people per night.

11 Henderson Retail stores in the Belfast, Ards and Bangor area have supported the initiative through collections and donations.

Bronagh finished; “We’d like to thank all of our staff, store team members and volunteers for their valued time and contributions throughout the year. This is an issue we intend to continue to support and hope to help make a real difference this Christmas and in the future.”