Derry Social Work Society raises £2,800 for foodbank

Students and staff at Magee have raised an incredible £2800 in their annual foodbank appeal in support of the Churches Trust.

Monday, 20th December 2021, 5:35 pm
Updated Monday, 20th December 2021, 5:36 pm
Denise MacDermott with social work students Ciara, Maria and Colleen
Denise MacDermott with social work students Ciara, Maria and Colleen

Every year since it was established in 2016 the 'Stand Up for Social Work Society' has supported the Churches Trust’s Pantry Project, a foodbank for local families in need of support.

The staff and students at the Magee campus and throughout the Ulster University family have always demonstrated amazing generosity to this annual foodbank appeal.

Denise MacDermott, Senior Lecturer and Subject Lead for Social Work, stated: "Social work is a human rights and social justice profession and it is essential that Ulster University students actively challenge poverty and austerity measures impacting on our local communities and beyond. The social work students are the 'heartbeat' of the society and their commitment, enthusiasm and passion are the driving force behind this annual Christmas appeal.

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Social work staff and students presenting cheque to Elaine, Veronica and Leona from the Churches Trust

"Hunger and poverty are impacting significantly on individuals and families. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has heightened the pressures for local families. No one should ever have to go hungry.

"This food bank appeal makes a huge difference to families in the North West who are experiencing food poverty. Every penny raised is used to purchase food for individuals and families who need help. The Churches Trust receive over 100 requests for help every week."

Ms. MacDermott said the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the food poverty crisis.

"This year, more families have been plunged into poverty than ever through furlough, job losses and cuts to Universal Credit. Foodbank use increased by 75% in Northern Ireland this year to its highest level ever, with the largest number of emergency parcels distributed in Derry/ Strabane Council area.

"Our Christmas appeal provides students with opportunities to get involved in their local communities and apply their social work skills and knowledge to tackling real issues.

"This form of collective activism contributes to establishing students’ sense of professional identity as social workers and locates social work at Ulster University in the heart of local communities.

"Our social work student community want to give back to local communities and highlight the issue of food poverty. The students utilised their team working and entrepreneurial skills so we had no overheads."

The society has said the support of local businesses in the Derry area has been phenomenal and without it, they would not have been able to hold their Christmas raffle as part of their fundraising appeal.

"We want to say a huge thank you to all those businesses who kindly donated prizes for our raffle, The Sooty Olive, The Old Docks, The Pickled Duck, Sainsbury's, Tommy Hilfiger, Tesco, Mermaid Cove, Craic's 9T, Ilico Gym, Ferry Clever, Angry Cherry, Jessie B Crafts, Foyle Golf, Derry and Donegal Window Cleaning, Hegarty’s Butchers and many more," said Ms. MacDermott.