Local agri-businesses unite to help Simple Power and Rural Support deliver over 100 hampers to farming families in need

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Farming and rural charity, Rural Support, and wind energy company, Simple Power, are celebrating the success of their fourth annual ‘Christmas Hamper Scheme’, which aimed to help hard-hit rural families throughout Northern Ireland.

The success of Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink was shared with those in need as over 20 local agri-businesses donated food and drink items to the 2016 hamper scheme.

Rural Supports Deborah Gavin, Simple Power Chief Executive Philip Rainey, Rural Support Chief Executive Jude McCann, Rural Supports Melissa Wylie, Scott Laidlaw and Archi McKeeman, pictured at the Christmas Hamper Scheme which took place near the end of Northern Irelands Year of Food and Drink

Rural Supports Deborah Gavin, Simple Power Chief Executive Philip Rainey, Rural Support Chief Executive Jude McCann, Rural Supports Melissa Wylie, Scott Laidlaw and Archi McKeeman, pictured at the Christmas Hamper Scheme which took place near the end of Northern Irelands Year of Food and Drink

This generosity enabled the charity to deliver over 100 hampers to farming and rural families this Christmas.

Since its launch in 2013, the scheme has grown year-on-year, with 2016 delivering one of the largest appeals to date, doubling the number of hampers distributed since year one.

Rural Support’s Chief Executive, Jude McCann, commented: “This year has been particularly tough for Northern Ireland’s farming community with the agricultural downturn having an impact on commodity prices. We expected even more families to be affected by economic issues around this time of year and our Christmas Hamper Scheme aimed to take the pressure off and make life easier for these families.

“With even more families in distress, we are delighted that we were able to deliver our hampers to 100 families benefitting from the scheme in 2016. We were overwhelmed by the kindness of local agri-producers, especially given the added pressures these companies are under during the festive season. We would also like to sincerely thank Simple Power for their support in co-ordinating the scheme and enabling us to reach more families this year.”

Rural Support Chief Executive Jude McCann  (left) and Simple Power Chief Executive Philip Rainey (right) at the recent Rural Support Christmas Hamper Scheme which delivered over 100 hampers to help hard-hit families throughout Northern Ireland over the festive period

Rural Support Chief Executive Jude McCann (left) and Simple Power Chief Executive Philip Rainey (right) at the recent Rural Support Christmas Hamper Scheme which delivered over 100 hampers to help hard-hit families throughout Northern Ireland over the festive period

Rural Support is working with its CSR partner, wind energy company Simple Power, on campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of health and wellbeing in rural communities and farming families.

Simple Power Chief Executive, Philip Rainey, commented: “We are delighted to see the Christmas Hamper Appeal grow from strength to strength each year and we are proud to support and be a part of this very important charity initiative. This initiative was particularly poignant as it took place during Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink, it was great to see so many food and drink producers come together to give back to the rural community this Christmas.

“With the support of the local producers, the hampers go some way towards delivering a little Christmas cheer this year to hard-hit rural families, alongside Rural Support’s very beneficial support services. The scheme would not be possible without the generous support of donors and we thank each of the companies that contributed to the scheme this year.”

This year’s Christmas Hamper Appeal included generous donations from Cavanagh Eggs, CavanaghKelly, Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt, Cookstown, DJ’s Apple Juice, Farmlay Eggs, Fresh Fields, Gilfresh Produce, Kerry Food Group, Kestrel Foods, Mash Direct, Moy Park, Punjana Tea, SH Long Produce, South Antrim Community Network, Tayto, Tesco NI, Finnebrogue Artisan, Ulster Farmers’ Union, White’s Oats and Wilson’s Country.

Rural Support helps farming and rural families across Northern Ireland on a wide range of issues, from farm business and financial issues to concerns about physical and mental health. The charity provides support for the rural community through a helpline offering a listening and signposting service.