Northern Ireland news

Bob and Berts cafe chain offering 'free school meals', We Are Vertigo providing care packages and Portaferry Hotel feeding older people

Bob & Berts coffee chain is offering food to children who normally receive free school meals. Picture by Mal McCann

A LEADING cafe chain is offering food to children who normally receive free school meals.

Bob and Berts, which has 16 coffee shops across Northern Ireland, announced that it would offer meals to pupils once schools close.

The chain has outlets across the north, including in Belfast, Omagh, Coleraine, Lisburn and Portadown.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the cafe chain said it would provide the service so long as its outlets are able to remain open and continue to receive supplies.

It asked any parent or guardian who wanted to receive a free child's meal to tell their server.

"Some children only have one warm meal a day and that’s in our schools," the statement read.

"If you normally get free school meals then as long as we are open and we can get supplies then discreetly mention to your server at the till between you get free school meals then we will sort you for free."

The chain employs more than 400 staff.

In an earlier post, Bob and Berts said it was planning to remain open.

"This is not us being greedy or reckless but simply trying to survive. A lot of people rely on their daily visits to Bobs and now we rely on you.....the public," the chain said.

We Are Vertigo, which runs two major activity centres in Belfast, will provide free care packages for elderly and vulnerable people living within a three mile radius of its businesses.

These packages contain bread, toilet roll, tea, coffee, milk, chocolate, sweets, biscuits, water, bacterial wipes, crosswords, magazines and puzzle books.

"We hope these packages will not only help practically but also show those in need there is a whole community behind them who they can rely on during these challenging times," the company said.

Deliveries will start from today.

Anyone who wants to apply for a delivery and lives within three miles of the company's Newtownbreda or Titanic sites can do so at

The Portaferry Hotel in Co Down is delivering free dinners to elderly people living nearby.

People can call the hotel on 028 4272 8231 before 1pm and a dinner will be delivered to their homes that evening.

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