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Council asked to help facilitate community drop off points for donations this Christmas

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is to consider how best it can operate drop off points for Christmas donations during the pandemic.

The issue was raised during a meeting of Council’s leisure and community services committee by Alderman Glenn Barr.

Across the borough many people donate a food parcel or toys to those less fortunate and given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic the Ulster Unionist representative asked if Council could help facilitate this process.

“I was wondering could we make our leisure centres a focal point for people to drop off stuff they want to donate for Christmas this year,” asked Alderman Barr.

A council officer confirmed it is something they will look at doing but stressed it must be done safely.

“We will certainly look at that but we want to take time to make sure we are doing it in the safest way possible, given the circumstances,” said the officer.

Councillor Barr explained how important a service like this could be to those less able, who are thinking of others this Christmas.

“From experience there was a situation that happened in Rathfriland a few years ago very close to Christmas,” said Alderman Barr.

“The community were able to rally round and I think, this year especially, to be able to go to places like Banbridge Leisure Centre or Rathfriland Community Centre could be really beneficial.

“I appreciate where we are coming from with regards to safety but not everyone has access to certain venues.

“People in Rathfriland may not have the facilities to travel that far and I am asking that these sorts of opportunities are made more accessible for vulnerable people who are thinking of others.”

A council officer confirmed that the request would be taken away from the meeting as an action point.

Speaking after the meeting, Alderman Barr said it was his hope this would mean the request would not need to return to committee and could be implemented by officers quickly, once the safest route forward had been decided.

Meanwhile, the committee’s Chair, Councillor Catherine Nelson has praised community groups who are already pressing ahead with organising these types of donation points.

“Churches, clubs and  community groups not linked to Council are already thinking about how they can do this sort of thing at Christmas this year and deserve tremendous credit for their efforts,” said the Sinn Fein councillor.

“Fair play to community activists who are leading the way with that.”

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