Home by Home

Monday, May 4, 2020

“We’ve all come through so much in Belfast; there’s so much more to these communities than ever gets out; the number of people who are just so quick to switch on & help.”

Seamus Corr, from Blackmountain Shared Space Initiative, reflects on the last few weeks & the mammoth community efforts going on to reach into the homes of those in need.

As soon as the coronavirus lockdown was announced, Seamus & representatives from a cluster of community organisations in Upper Springfield & Whiterock sprang into action. The group also consulted with community organisations in the Springfield and Highfield areas, to agree how they could work together.

Within a week they had coordinated an emergency response that has seen every patch of their area receive help. From prescription collections, to morning phone calls & food deliveries – their response has been swift and widespread.

Street by street, home by home – they aim to leave no-one out of their care plan.

“We quickly arrived at the conclusion that this is not an individual effort – but collectively we have the skills to do this,” says Seamus. “Our question was though – how do we get this onto the ground & into people’s living rooms who are affected?”

And that’s exactly what they’ve managed to do. They consulted with people who agreed to be in charge of each area in their patch of Belfast & then identified representatives who would be points of contact on every single street.

From the morning phone calls, which come from the already established Good Morning West Belfast service, to the deliveries of non-perishable goods & hot meals; already their team of volunteers have reached into hundreds of homes.

“Street representatives were coming back to us quickly,” says Seamus. “And you were hearing what people need. We created the structure, then the needs came back, street by street.”

Hundreds of non-perishable packs have been given out over the course of the lockdown so far, with hundreds of hot meals distributed & and thousands more frozen, stored & ready to go.”

“Each representative is coming back saying how delighted & proud they are of their community being able to do this. They’re finding nothing but good will out there. And there won’t be a street that is not covered.”

Seamus tells us there are so many stories coming back to them of the people being helped.

“One couple in Gort na Móna are housebound,” he says. “Their carer had to self-isolate & one of our reps rapped the door. The wife is bed bound & her husband is in a wheelchair. We’re now supplying them meals and it’s taken the pressure off them & the carers.”

He recounts another call that impacted him from a woman on the Shankill who is partially blind & was struggling. The teams were able to ensure she got food & support.

“I’m seeing new partnerships across communities,” he insists. “I think it’s another step forward for all of us.”

“I think our communities were already on a path of togetherness for a while. But we need to give people hope & we need to start talking this place up; there is just so much good.”

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