The British Red Cross has provided £2,250 in emergency cash assistance to Women’s Aid Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey (ABLCN) to help women and families most in need during the Coronavirus lockdown.

Seventy five women identified by the Women’s Aid ABCLN Floating Support and Accommodation Service will benefit from the donation. The money will be delivered directly to recipients in the form of cash assistance cards. The cards are valued at £30 each will be used to pay emergency household bills such as food and utility costs.

This is one of the initiatives the British Red Cross is involved in as the organisation endeavours to help the most vulnerable during the global pandemic. Cash assistance is one key elements that Red Cross provides in supporting vulnerable people in crisis across the world.

Women’s Aid ABLCN Finance Manager Karen McConkey said: “The one-off emergency payment of £30 has been delivered directly to women requesting emergency assistance. These are women who have been identified by our Floating Support and Accommodation Staff as our teams could see the hardship our service users were experiencing due to being in lockdown.

“With schools closed for children, there is an increased financial pressures on mums to have extra food at home for their families adding to their stress and  anxiety levels. The fact that the vouchers could be used in many outlets was a huge benefit and families were delighted to receive the support from the Red Cross,” said Karen.

One such mum is Amanda* who recently moved out of temporary refuge accommodation with her three children, Brian* and Chloe* who are seven years old and Michael* who is eight months old. They moved into their new home just before lockdown began.

The family had originally travelled from England, fleeing domestic violence. Due to Covid-19, Amanda now has all three children at home all day and is their sole carer. The money donated by the British Red Cross has supported Amanda through the purchase of food for her family. These vouchers were a much needed support as they took some pressure off Amanda in ensuring she had enough money each week to buy groceries, especially as the children are home all day now and need much more food as they are not receiving their free school meals

British Red Cross Northern Ireland Director Sharon Sinclair said: “The coronavirus outbreak has changed the lives of every person on the planet. We know that many people will be struggling in different ways because of its impact and these varying needs are at the heart of everything the British Red Cross does. As a humanitarian organisation, we must protect people who are now forced to make impossible choices on how to spend the little they have.

“Delivering this cash assistance is part of our focus on people, families and communities who need us most. These cash assistance cards give local women in vulnerable situations a financial safety net, so they can cope during this health crisis. By providing them with cash support, they’re able to buy the basics, as well as make empowered, dignified decisions about what they most need. At a time where everyone is concerned about their health and the health of their families, no one should have to worry about how they are going to feed their children, or where they will sleep if they can no longer pay the bills. We hope that by delivering this cash assistance we can give local women a source of hope that they can get through this crisis. The power of kindness is more important than ever as we empower people to decide what’s best for them and their recovery.”

Image caption: British Red Cross NI’s Lea Karczewska and Women’s Aid’s Karen McConkey pictured at The Naomi Centre, Ballymena.

*Names have been changed.

 

Nadia Duncan

Author: Nadia Duncan

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