Northern Ireland

Belfast foodbank service opens Community Solidarity Hub

Paul Doherty pictured at the new Community Solidarity Hub on the Andersonstown Road in west Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell
Paul Doherty pictured at the new Community Solidarity Hub on the Andersonstown Road in west Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell

A Belfast food bank service which supports more than 400 families a week has opened a hub which will offer a plethora of services aimed at the "betterment of the community".

Foodstock, which is based on the Andersonstown Road, this week opened the Community Solidarity Hub nearby, which incorporates the Solidarity Cafe.

In the coming weeks the hub will begin offering a host of services including running the `Giving Gardens Project', which will teach people about growing their own vegetables as well as running healthy eating initiatives.

There will also be asylum seeker and refugee language classes, physical health and wellbeing sessions, employment, training, CV and interview support.

There will also be benefit and housing advice.

The Solidarity Cafe will also run breakfast clubs.

Paul Doherty, who founded Foodstock, said it was hoped the services on offer would be for the "betterment of the community".

"These are unprecedented times and now more than ever we need community, and now more than ever we need to come together as one community," he said.

"The premise of the Community Solidarity Hub at Foodstock is about creating a space for people to do just that, and by coming together and looking out for one another.

"At Foodstock, we are continuing to respond directly to what people are going through right now.

"Children and families are being denied access to a fruit and veg and a basic healthy diet as a result of costs at our supermarkets.

"Children are going to school on an empty stomach and going to bed hungry. We aren't prepared to let that happen. On a weekly basis, our food bank service continues to reach over 400 households with food and continue to facilitate breakfast clubs to support families.

"Many elderly and vulnerable people are walking around supermarkets or sitting all day just to keep warm, but there is an even further issue of people being alone.

"Sadly, this is what we are encountering all too often in our communities right now. Loneliness and isolation".

Mr Doherty added: "At Foodstock, we are trying to play a small part in fixing this by opening our doors for people to come and enjoy some company, conversation, music, activities as well as tea, coffee and snacks.

"We call it our 'Solidarity Cafe'. A place where people look out for people".

**Foodstock is based at 150F Andersonstown Road