The Network has only been in existence for a number of weeks, but has provided a lifeline for some of the most vulnerable in this small, rural community.
The network took advantage of online technology to engage with the local community, local business and other specialist voluntary organisations to meet any emerging need in their community, including:
Shopping for people and doing the all important runs to the Post Office and Butchers
Providing Food Parcels through the Bushmills Support Network and supporting Council’s COVID-19 Hub, making more than 45 deliveries per week.
Providing advice and friendly phone calls.
Developing a relationship and signposting people to positive support for mental health from the Zachary Geddis Break The Silence Trust.
Young people have also been a key focus with many Easter Eggs delivered and a virtual Tik Tok challenge planned for the whole village.
Leanne Abernethy from the Ulidia Trust, a community development organisation in Ballymoney who is co-ordinating the response said having a single point of contact for the whole village has proved very important she praised the work of the volunteers involved:
“A lot of our volunteers have never met and would normally not have the opportunity to meet, but because of the crisis the community spirit shown in Bushmills has been immense, from businesses, lodges, bands and those making donations.”
Businesses including Yi House and The Copper Kettle have helped provided hot meals, Kane’s Family Butchers have donated meat, an army of home bakers have made buns and scones and the community have co-ordinated and delivered this to vulnerable, elderly and isolated.
In a real example of true community spirit, an elderly couple whose television broke, had a replacement sourced and delivered within 24 hours of a call-out to the response hub.
How to recognise the volunteers and community spirit now and after the current situation is a key consideration for the group.