Food and Provisions Response
SOS Bus has managed a dynamic presence over the city since the beginning of lockdown. We have an incredible resource in our volunteers who have risen to every challenge this season and adapted in their roles to support our community. SOS were contacted by old and new partners throughout 2020 with requests to provide logistical support or transport on new initiatives to help vulnerable and isolated people on the streets of Belfast. As a result, we were able to provide an additional 3352 volunteer hours supporting our community.
Belfast Community Hub Food Programme
SOS Bus is a part of the multi-agency Belfast Community Response Hub, delivering food parcels and provisions to people shielding alongside Belfast City Council, Department of Communities, Red Cross and other organisations. SOS Volunteers have been supporting over 400 households per week with food deliveries and signposting advice. To date over 49,000 food parcels have been delivered to families and individuals across Belfast. Poverty is an escalating problem, with soaring numbers struggling. Universal Credit claims rose by 80% four weeks into lockdown.
Food Poverty Relief with James Street South
Throughout August 2020 SOS Bus NI were delighted to be part of the Food Poverty Relief Programme in partnership with James Street South and organisations supporting vulnerable families and individuals in Belfast. Meal boxes prepared by the chefs of James Street South restaurant were delivered by SOS Volunteers to 152 vulnerable clients referred to us by Forward South, St Vincent De Paul, Engage with Age, Solas, Belvoir Parish Church and CFC. Clients ranged from large families with young children and isolated, elderly individuals — all were struggling from food poverty.
Christmas Dinners with Loaf Catering
In winter 2020, Forward South Partnership contacted SOS Bus for help in a multi-agency initiative to help provide some relief during the Christmas period for vulnerable individuals and families in South Belfast. In response SOS Bus provided the logistics, transport, and volunteers in the delivery of 461 Christmas dinners and desserts, made by Loaf Catering, to households in need.
Winter Community Poverty Relief
Working in partnership with Belvoir Parish, since November SOS Volunteers have delivered 189 fresh meals weekly to vulnerable individuals and families. To date the teams have delivered 3,512 meals to households referred by Holy Rosary, Engage with Age, St Vincent de Paul and Rosetta Community Centre, all working closely with those suffering from food poverty. Forward South generously donated positivity and wellbeing packs with books, painting sets and signposting information for every client on the programme. Volunteers also delivered toys over Christmas time and a supply of PPE throughout the winter to help relieve some more of the financial pressure on families. Many of these response initiatives were also a helpful boost to volunteer wellbeing as an opportunity to safely reconnect during lockdown and contribute something positive to the community.