Sterling efforts of Derry & Strabane community sector and volunteers during pandemic is praised

The community and voluntary sector has been warmly praised by Council members in response to a notice of motion highlighting the invaluable role they have played and continue to play during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 9:59 am

Sinn Féin Councillor Tina Burke brought forward the motion, which called on Council ‘to formally acknowledge the good work of the community and voluntary sector in relation to the pandemic and bring a paper to the relevant committee considering the best way this can be done’.

Council will also write to the Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey in support of the UNISON campaign to extend the £500 recognition payment scheme to community and voluntary sector workers and seeking clarification on the scheme.

Colr. Burke said: “There’s no doubt 2020 is a year many will want to forget.

Members of the Ballyarnett Community Support Team who delivered a Red Card support scheme for residents to put on their windows if they needed help, which also delivering help packs, food parcels, and colourful garden arrangements.

“We have seen the devastating impact Covid has brought to our communities, for many since March last year, there has been complete upheaval and challenges we have never been met with before between lockdown and guidelines.

“Despite the fear and unknown surrounding this unknown virus, one thing for me and I’m sure for everyone, was the community response right across the city and district.

“We witnessed the community and voluntary sector hit the ground running in terms of the community responses and other initiatives that were set up to ensure the most vulnerable were protected.”

People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin agreed with Councillor Burke’s comments adding: “We should commend anybody who has played a role in protecting people and keeping people safe during the pandemic.

“While there was funding released there certainly wasn’t enough and we all know people who have fallen through the cracks. People did rally and it was very important they did.”

An amendment was added by People Before Profit Councillor Eamonn McCann which moved that ‘Council supports the UNISON Community Branch campaign calling for all frontline community and voluntary sectors to be recognised for the vital contribution they made during the COVID-19 pandemic – in delivering vital services to local people; services which protected at risk individuals and families, providing a buffer for already disadvantaged working class communities, keeping local people safe and connected.’

The substantive motion was passed unanimously by all local representatives present.

By Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter