YFCU Covid-19 unsung heroes
Young Farmers’ Clubs have been the unsung heroes of the coronavirus pandemic in rural communities across every stretch of Northern Ireland.
Independent Food Aid Network (Ifan), said its food banks recorded a 59% increase in demand for emergency food support between February and March (17 times higher a year ago). As soon as the initial crisis began clubs were quick to respond to helping their communities with providing basic amenities to those who needed it most.
In Co Down, Donaghadee YFC decided to contribute items to their local food bank based at Shore Street Presbyterian Church in Donaghadee - managing to collect a whopping 290 items. The club also donated a £100 cheque to Shore Street Presbyterian Church to help cover the cost of essential and much needed items such as milk and meat. Newtownards Young Farmers’ Club, gave their club hall to a local farm shop so that they could carry out deliveries in the local area.
In Co Antrim, Randalstown YFC members have been busy delivering food bank donations to the Jam Store in First Randalstown Presbyterian Church. The volunteers were delighted with the big contribution as this will go to help those in need in the community.
Curragh YFC, were informed that several families who normally receive free meals at school were struggling so they made a donation of food and children’s activity packs to Maghera Foodbank (Maghera Cross Community Link). The Foodbank has been providing up to 200 food parcels each week to those living within the local area.
In Co Armagh, Collone YFC, helped Armagh Elim Church Food Bank by donating supplies alongside delivering food and toiletry items to the elderly and most vulnerable.
“As a club, we wanted to give something to our community during these uncertain times to help them during the pandemic. On 7th May 2020 two members from the club delivered 50 litres of hand sanitiser to local residential/nursing homes. Our club alongside, Moneyrea YFC, supported local business Echlinville Distiller by purchasing the hand sanitiser from the distillery directly. They very kindly donated a few extra hand sanitisers on top of our order too,” said Rachel McCracken of Moneyrea YFC in Co Down.
Kilraughts YFC have joined links with Marie Curie and became volunteers as PPE delivery drivers. Members received online training and began to pick up PPE and deliver it during this difficult time where PPE and deliveries are at their maximum. Collone YFC, have made a £250 donation for PPE to carers at Homecare Independent Living in Milford.
The members of Clogher Valley Young Farmers’ Club have been spending their time preparing and delivering hampers to the frontline heroes. The beneficiaries were the staff at the St McCartan’s Nursing Home Clogher, Clogher Valley Nursing Home and Gilbrooke Nursing home Clabby. Each hamper consists of groceries alongside skin care products, all supplied by local businesses in the Clogher Valley Area.
A representative of Clogher Valley YFC said: “We are glad that we can help out by even just giving a small gesture to our local nursing homes. We hope that all the staff and residents continue to stay safe and healthy during this difficult time.”
COMMUNICATING WITH THE EldERLY
Covid-19 has led to the isolation of many vulnerable people within the rural community, so members of Coleraine YFC decided to make a difference and came up with the idea of delivering letters to the older members of our community. The letter included contact details of those who they could contact if they needed anything such as groceries or prescriptions or even just someone to talk to. Due to the great response that Coleraine YFC received Garvagh YFC posted notes through the doors of elderly past members and the elderly, these notes had their names and phones numbers on them so that members could help out where possible.
Meanwhile, Lisnamurrican Young Farmers’ Club members Natasha Adams, Matthew Moorhead, Graeme O’Neill and Gail McCullough have become ‘Buddies’ in the local area of Broughshane which mean supporting the elderly and vulnerable throughout this hard time. The club received a grant from Power NI which enabled them to produce care packages for the local care homes.
Due to lockdown restrictions, several individuals have been advised to stay at home in order to protect themselves. This therefore has meant several members of the community are unable to pick up much needed prescriptions, City of Derry YFC came up with a delivery and pick up plan in order to help these people in their communities.
Wendy Canning of Collone YFC said: “It has also brought the community together in so many positive ways.”
Over the past few weeks all four clubs in Co Armagh Young Farmers have come together in thanking local businesses which are providing vital key work during these times. Elaine Crozier chair of Co Armagh YFC said: “I asked our four clubs in the county to nominate three essential businesses within their local area which we could support by providing a small hamper as a thank you during this lockdown period for all their hard work.”
Elaine continued: “I appreciate that there are lots of essential businesses going that extra mile during these times to help everyone and we wanted, as a county, to acknowledge some of these businesses.”
In light of Mental Health Awareness week, several clubs have taken part in the 600 Mile Challenge, an initiative started off by Kilraughts YFC in Co Antrim. The challenge was created for clubs to walk, run and cycle a total of 600 miles for the Yellow Wellies, ‘Mind Your Head’ campaign. This campaign was started with the aim of breaking the stigma surrounding mental health in the agriculture industry. This campaign is ongoing and clubs have already raised over £3,000 for the campaign. With all this hard work and effort, YFCU would like to say: “Well done and keep going” to all members.