A Newry councillor is pleading for ‘ring-fenced’ cash for social supermarkets to be released to ease the cost of living burden on families heading towards Christmas.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) rep, David Lee-Surginor is urging the Department for Communities to release over £100,000 of funding for the discount outlets amid the ongoing cost of living crisis.
A ‘social supermarket’ is a shop that can sell products reduced in price by up to 70% to members who are at risk of food poverty. The main difference between a social supermarket and a foodbank is that the new scheme includes wrap-around services in conjunction with food supply.
At this time, NMDDC and the DfC are working with the voluntary community sector to identify the design and roll out of the social supermarket in Newry.
Alliance Cllr Lee-Surginor, who sits on the active and healthy communities committee, said: “We need to be putting pressure on the DfC to be releasing this money immediately.
“We are looking at some of the most difficult economic times for local families who would greatly benefit from the social supermarket, especially when costs are set to severely increase in the coming months.
“The money is sitting there ready to be used and it would be a shame if families who are facing the decision of whether to heat or eat will be looking towards an economically difficult Christmas time, which is just around the corner.
“I will be making enquires to get this money to where it is desperately needed.”
Documents from NMDDC confirm that DfC has awarded £100,414 to support the pilot social supermarket. However, as Stormont has collapsed the cash is effectively out of reach.
Confederation of Community Groups, CEO Raymond Jackson, a member of the community coordination hub with NMDDC, said: “I am only able to confirm that the DfC has ring-fenced monies, however we are only in the early stages of considering a possible social supermarket in the NMDDC area.
“The Strategic Stakeholder Forum (SSF) has met to review a report on possible models (including a possible social enterprise model) however issues such as tendering for the service, location(s), legal implications etc… have yet to be addressed.
“In the interim the community and voluntary sector will continue to work with our local foodbanks, SVP and other agencies and will continue to lobby for targeted funding for those most affected by the cost of living crisis.”