Ballymoney Foodbank has been presented with a Community Connectors Award by digital network provider Openreach in recognition for its support for vulnerable neighbours during lockdown.
The foodbank received the award after the team set up a referral voucher system where churches, doctors, social workers and other local groups and services can offer vouchers to residents in need, which can be exchanged for food packages and other essentials.
It has also provided support, including debt advice and heating vouchers, to those most in need.
Openreach launched the Community Connectors Awards in 2020 to recognise individuals and groups for their work supporting local residents and vulnerable neighbours during lockdown.
More than 130 nominations from MPs across the UK were judged by the panel, including Openreach engineers and former Culture Secretary Baroness Nicky Morgan of Cotes.
Clive Selley, Chief Executive of Openreach, said: “We were inspired to launch the Community Connectors Awards by the efforts of our engineering team.
“The stories received from across the country have been inspiring and show how many people are working to make a difference and support their neighbours during lockdown.
“Ballymoney Foodbank hasn’t sought recognition but is a wonderful example to its community.
“I’m delighted and very grateful to be able to thank the team there for everything they continue to do to support the vulnerable in our society.”
Peter Rollins, from the Ballymoney Foodbank, said: “I’m delighted to accept the Openreach Community Connectors Award on behalf of the Ballymoney Foodbank.
“We are an emergency foodbank helping local people who are unable to put food on the table today, for whatever reason, and we were able to continue throughout the pandemic with our normal opening hours every Tuesday and Friday without fail.
“December past was our busiest month ever, giving food to 605 people, and the Friday before Christmas was our busiest ever, giving food to 187 people in a two-and-a-half-hour session.”
Ian Paisley, MP, who nominated Ballymoney Foodbank for the award, said: “I want to take the opportunity to congratulate Ballymoney Foodbank for achieving the Openreach Community Connectors Award. What a fantastic achievement.
“You really put your backs into this, and I really appreciate the efforts that have been made in reaching out to those really in need and who really require assistance in our community.”
As key workers, Openreach engineers have connected numerous field hospitals across the UK within days, also performing vital maintenance to keep families and businesses online and in contact during lockdown.
Members of the engineering team have also camped out in remote parts of the UK to ensure local connectivity and volunteered in their spare time – performing roles including as delivery drivers for NHS blood supplies.
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