Mayor of Ards and North Down announces chosen charities

Friday 22nd July 2022

Bangor Foodbank and Community Support (BFCS), Newtownards Foodbank and North Down & Ards Women’s Aid are chosen for support by Mayor during her term of office.

A group of people including the mayor are standing in front of Bangor Castle. They are between promotional signage for the Mayor's Charities.

The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Karen Douglas, has announced the charities that she will support during her term of office. She has chosen Bangor Foodbank and Community Support (BFCS), Newtownards Foodbank, and North Down & Ards Women’s Aid.  

 Commenting on her choices, the Mayor said:

“The rising cost of living across Northern Ireland means many individuals and families within the Borough are struggling to make ends meet. Financial pressure can put strain on relationships in the home too, leaving many people feeling isolated with nowhere to turn. It is so important that when people find themselves in times of crisis or distress the necessary resources and support are readily available.  

“I am immensely proud to be working alongside my three chosen charities this year, Bangor Foodbank and Community Support, Newtownards Foodbank and Women’s Aid. The work each of these charities is doing within the Borough is invaluable. 

“If you feel you could do with a helping hand, please reach out to them for assistance. I have chosen to support these charities so nobody in our Borough suffers in silence. I have a range of events organised in the coming months to help raise much-needed funds for them. I would really love for as many people as possible to get involved and to help make a positive difference to the lives of people living in Ards and North Down.”  

Bangor Foodbank and Community Support was launched in 2012 and is a member of the Trussell Trust network of foodbanks. It provides much-needed support for at-risk families, the elderly, and individuals in North Down.   

Ken Scott, Project Manager at Bangor Foodbank and Community Support, said:  

“Over the past year, Bangor Foodbank and Community Support has adapted rapidly to frequently changing risks and restrictions due to COVID 19, as well as increasing levels of need due to the increase of living costs.

“We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people requiring our support during the past 12 months. Between 1st July 2021 and 30th June 2022, BFCS has distributed 59,831KG of food to people locally, this equates to 142,454 meals (2,740 meals a week).  

“We would not be able to offer this level of assistance to those individuals and families in our community without the tremendous support from local businesses, schools and the never-ending generosity of the local community which never ceases to amaze us.   

“We are honoured to have been chosen by the Mayor to be one of the chosen charities for her year in office. We are passionate about the work we deliver and the difference it makes to those living in our local community. We look forward to a great year working with the two other chosen charities and ask the public to support our fundraising efforts for the upcoming year.” 

The Newtownards Foodbank opened in 2011 and was the first Trussell Trust Foodbank in Northern Ireland. It has served the community in Newtownards and the surrounding Borough by supplying emergency food parcels and support to local people.  

Richard Porter, Project Manager at Newtownards Foodbank, said:  

“In the first six months of this year we have fed 1,205 people locally, which is a 47% increase over the same period last year. In June alone, we helped 239 people which is a 136% increase compared to June 2021. We received donations of 13.5 tonnes of food during the first six months of this year but have given out 16.3 tonnes in the same period.  

“Newtownards Foodbank is so thankful for the opportunity to be part of the Mayor's charities group. It is such a great opportunity to highlight what we do but, more importantly, the incredible need that is in our community.

“The desire is that nobody should face food poverty in our community but, when that happens, there is somewhere where they can get help. Our staff are there to support people at a time of crisis with the food they need and can also signpost people to other avenues of help too. Any one of us could face food poverty and our services are available to support you when life gets tough.” 

Women’s Aid is the lead voluntary organisation in Northern Ireland addressing domestic abuse and providing services for women and children. North Down & Ards Women’s Aid was established in 1982 and responds to the needs of women and children locally, not only through crisis intervention but through preventative support and education.  

Michelle Myatt, Interim CEO with North Down & Ards Women’s Aid, said:   

“North Down & Ards Women's Aid would like to thank the Mayor for choosing us as one of her nominated charities for the coming year. 

“This support and awareness comes at a critical time as reported domestic and sexual abuse incidents continue to rise in the Ards and North Down area. From 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022, a total of 2,253 incidents were reported, an increase of 11.1% from the previous year. Reported crimes also increased by 27% based on the previous year with 1,395 reported. These are the highest figures recorded since records began in 2004. 

“As a result, the demand has doubled in the last year, resulting in an increased need for our services. With limited government funding, this makes the support from our local community and other sources even more important. 

“We really look forward to working alongside the Mayor and the rest of the chosen charities in the coming year - raising both awareness and vital funds for the great work that Women's Aid does.”

A number of charity fundraising events will be announced over the coming months. In the meantime, if you wish to make a donation to the charities, contact the Mayor’s office on 0300 013 3333 or email mayors.office@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Pictured are:  Richard Porter (Project Manager at Newtownards Foodbank), Mayor of Ards and North Down Councillor Karen Douglas, Michelle Myatt (Interim CEO with North Down & Ards Women’s Aid) and Ken Scott (Project Manager at Bangor Foodbank and Community Support).