Northern Ireland news

North Belfast cross-community group launches Christmas appeal

Bridging the Divide said it will be supporting people with energy costs, toys and even Christmas dinners this festive season
Suzanne McGonagle

A NORTH Belfast cross-community group has launched a Christmas appeal to help families living on both sides of an interface amid the cost of living crisis.

Bridging the Divide will support people with energy costs, toys and Christmas dinners.

The group was set up to "bridge the divide" between communities in the New Lodge, Tigers Bay and Limestone Road areas. It aims to unite people living close to the interface after a legacy of division from the Troubles.

This Christmas, people are being asked to donate toys, food for hampers and cash to support the group purchasing items, as well as clothes, pyjamas, slippers and toiletries.

Rosie Bradley from Bridging the Divide said: "We are glad to be able to support people this Christmas during what is a very challenging time for families. With the increased costs of energy, fuel and food, more and more people are struggling to make ends meet and that is even before the additional financial pressures of Christmas.

"Our collection last year was very successful and benefitted so many families and individuals but we know there will be more demand this year and we are calling out for toys across all age groups - they don't have to be expensive. We also need toiletries, pyjamas, slippers and food."

Donations can be left at the Macrory Centre at Duncairn Gardens on Monday, Wednesday or Friday between 4.30pm and 7.30pm. Collections are available for those who cannot get to the centre.

Meanwhile, Belfast City Council said it has been "overwhelmed" with donations to its first pre-loved toy appeal.

The initiative, in conjunction with the East Belfast Mission and St Vincent DePaul, has seen hundreds of items left at the council's recycling centres ahead. A wide range of items can be donated at any of the council's four recycling centres, including bikes, scooters, dolls, prams, jigsaws, board games, books and DVDs.

Donated toys and items, suitable for children of all ages, must be clean, complete, working and in good condition. Pre-loved toy donations can be accepted up until December 11.

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