SPAR NI is one of the top partners supporting a scheme with Business in the Community, launched by Urban Villages Initiative.

The Keeping Healthy, Staying Safe initiative is a collaboration between local communities, government and businesses to deliver activities for young people and the wider community to improve wellbeing, learn new skills, promote good relations and have fun.

Operating under the constraints and impacts of COVID-19, five projects from the five Urban Village areas have received funding of up to £10,000. They will work with a range of groups in their areas to meet their overall project aims and objectives. These are:

  • North Belfast – Ballysillan Community Forum
  • South Belfast – Belfast South Community Resources
  • East Belfast – Ballymac Friendship Trust
  • West Belfast – Poleglass Community Association @ Sally Gardens
  • Derry/Londonderry – Triax Neighbourhood Partnership Board

Keeping Healthy, Staying Safe is a continuation of the Healthy Summer Project that ran last year in partnership with the charity Business in the Community supporting community groups working in Urban Village areas across Belfast and Derry-Londonderry. The aim is to give families and communities in these areas some extra, much needed support at a time when they are coping with both financial pressures and the effects of the pandemic.

Some of the projects that will benefit include Footprints Women’s Centre in West Belfast who will supply nutritious, weekend meals to families over a two month period. These food packs will also contain ingredients and recipes for families to cook together.

Another example in East Belfast is a project to address food insecurity for families of school-aged children and elderly, vulnerable and infirm people during the winter months by supporting and developing knowledge and understanding of healthy eating, removing barriers to home cooking and supporting people with financial management.

A key element of all projects is to tackle isolation, upskill people and provide practical support through food and useful activities.

SPAR NI is one of twelve companies in Northern Ireland that have donated towards the campaign, which alongside a donation from The Executive Office, totals £50,000.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “The Keeping Healthy, Staying Safe, project brings communities, businesses and government together in a practical partnership that will make a real difference to people’s lives.

“We know that these are difficult and anxious times for everyone, but this is felt even more deeply for those in Urban Village areas as they deal with long-standing issues of deprivation and social and economic challenge.

“I’m delighted that the Executive is supporting this project and would like to thank all of these local companies and community leaders for working alongside us to improve the wellbeing of people in these areas as part of the Urban Villages initiative.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “These are hard times for everyone across our society, particularly for those who are vulnerable or in need. The Executive is committed to providing all possible support for individuals, families and communities who are facing hardship or isolation, both as a result of the pandemic and in the longer term.

“From providing hot meals for children and the elderly, to delivering food parcels to vulnerable residents, the Keeping Healthy Staying Safe programme will get vital support into communities. I’m delighted that The Executive Office is supporting this fantastic project through our Urban Villages Initiative and I want to commend the businesses who have stepped up and worked in partnership with us to address the very real need within our society.”

Bronagh Luke, Head of Corporate Marketing at Henderson Group which owns the SPAR brand in Northern Ireland added; “Community is at the heart of everything we do at SPAR NI, so we’re proud to be part of this very important initiative. Now more than ever, we are committed to supporting the development of our communities and providing opportunities to address key social issues, especially at this very uncertain time. We’re really looking forward to seeing how the project develops for those who need it most.”

Kieran Harding, Managing Director, Business in the Community adds: “A huge thank you to our member companies for continuing their vital community support through Keeping Healthy, Staying Safe.

“Following on from the successful Healthy Summer project that took place in 2019, it is heartening to see businesses make an enormous difference, especially in a year when we are dealing with extraordinary circumstances.

“Best wishes to all of Urban Village community projects involved and we look forward to hearing about the impact in each area over the coming months.”

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