Call for volunteer winter response groups to help ‘ignored’ parts of city

Traffic backed up on Creggan Road in Derry on Wednesday following the heavy snow showers. (Picture by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye)
Traffic backed up on Creggan Road in Derry on Wednesday following the heavy snow showers. (Picture by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye)

A Derry councillor has called on local people to come together to form volunteer task forces during adverse weather conditions following the disruption caused by the weather this week.

SDLP Colr. Shauna Cusack made the call to residents in the Foyleside constituency interested in forming the response volunteer groups.

Commenting on the proposed initiative, Colr. Cusack said: “The recent bad weather has highlighted to me that there is a serious imbalance in what areas in this city get extra help and attention from community organisations and volunteers and those that don’t. Most developments which fall under the remits of ‘renewal’ or ‘deprivation’ will usually have central community facilities, run by organisations such as Triax, able to respond with resources and manpower when help is required. This is of great benefit to those living in these areas and to be commended but what about those who don’t ?”

Colr. Cusack said that this was evidenced in the Foyleside constituency , where only some ‘neighbourhood renewal’ areas are covered by community supported and funded assistance.

“We also have large residential areas left to their own devices at these times,” she said.“Residents living in areas such as Foyle Springs, Hatmore, Templemore and Lower Culmore to name but a few, are no less in need of help than others when problem weather disrupts their ability to get out of their homes or feel safe.

“We should remember that the elderly, immobile and vulnerable live everywhere.

“I am, therefore, encouraging fit and able residents in these ignored areas to come together to form local volunteer groups who can be depended on to help in times of need. These past couple of days have shown how the hilly nature of many of these developments can cause major problems for everyone, especially as gritting has to be done manually. Getting these new neighbourhood groups to pull together to help those less able, either clearing snow, salting or even checking on people, will give so many peace of mind.

“I would ask anyone interested in getting involved to please get in touch so I can compile groups of volunteers details in the various neighbourhoods who can be called on when needed. I will be more than happy to coordinate any actions. I am especially keen to see young people and parents get involved.”

Colr. Cusack said Derry people were ‘notoriously kind and eager to help others but sometimes just don’t know how.’

“I believe this project, if successful will fill a gap and serve a population too long ignored by other agencies,” she added.