Poverty forum for North West set to be discussed

Dublin based Jesuit priest Father Peter McVerry SJ pictured at the launch of his new book 'The God of Mercy, The God of the Gospels' in the Veritas Bookshop, Shipquay Street, Derry on Thursday evening last. DER1616GS033
Dublin based Jesuit priest Father Peter McVerry SJ pictured at the launch of his new book 'The God of Mercy, The God of the Gospels' in the Veritas Bookshop, Shipquay Street, Derry on Thursday evening last. DER1616GS033

An event focusing on poverty to be held in Derry could lead to the establishment of a poverty forum for the North West.

It is hoped that the event, which is to be held in the Termonbacca Carmelite Retreat Centre on Saturday, will bring together various key people who are involved in efforts to alleviate poverty to create a forum in the area.

The new forum could also raise awareness of the root causes of poverty and create a strong voice from, and on behalf of, those most affected by deprivation to lobby politicians and statutory organisations to make positive changes to policies and strategies.

The keynote speaker is Fr Peter Mc Verry SJ, who will talk about his work in the Peter McVerry Trust, an organisation that deals with homelessness and poverty in Dublin.

Deirdre Mc Daid, from the Foyle Food Bank will also speak at the event, along with Kathyrn Lusby, who coordinates the Apex Living Centre and will speak on the work of the Apex Food Club project.

Dr.Katriona O’Sullivan, of Maynooth University, will share her journey through poverty to becoming a university lecturer.

The Project Director of the Old Library Trust Healthy Living Centre, George McGowan, will also address the event about the negative effects of poverty on the social, mental and physical wellbeing of the people in the wider Creggan and Derry area.

A spokesperson for the event said: “The average weekly income of households using food banks in Northern Ireland is only £50 after paying rent; one in five have no money coming in at all in the month before being referred for emergency food; 94% of people coming to food banks are destitute and have no money for the basic necessities of life.

“Therefore it is imperative that we talk about poverty.”

They added: “The Foyle Foodbank has been in operation for just over three and a half years and during that time, and simply because of the magnificent generosity of the people of the North West, the Foyle Foodbank has distributed to those people experiencing food poverty or crisis over 80 metric tonnes of food.

“Last year 20 metric tonnes of food was donated, which fed a total of 3467 people from the North West, of whom 1486 were children. This year the Foyle Foodbank expects to surpass those numbers.

“We would rather the Foyle Foodbank was declining and going out of business, unfortunately, for the many complex and varied reasons previously cited the number of people facing hardship and food poverty is constantly rising and the Foyle Foodbank is responding by growing steadily.”

The event is open to anyone from the North West who has an interest in social justice and the elimination of poverty; who are dealing with the negative effects of poverty or who are working, in some way, to alleviate poverty and its root causes.

It will take place on Saturday, December 7 in the Termonbacca Carmelite Retreat Centre between 10am and 2:30pm.

For further information contact the centre on 02871262512.