Bolster Community provides a safety net for Newry and Mourne through COVID-19

Bolster Community provides a safety net for Newry and Mourne through COVID-19

Bolster Community provides a safety net for Newry and Mourne through COVID-19

Local community support charity helps individuals and families get through and get ahead

The COVID-19 pandemic has served a devastating blow for charities across Northern Ireland, many reluctantly, reduced services or closed their doors. Yet charities continue to be a crucial safety net for many.

Local community support charity, Bolster Community today reported a 70% increase in demand for its services since COVID-19 hit. Demand on services has never been greater. With recent infection rates reaching record levels, this pressure on support services is set to continue.

Bolster Community (previously known as SPACE NI) is a charity and social enterprise that offers practical support for individuals and families across Newry and Mourne. Despite income challenges, Bolster Community has stepped up to help the most vulnerable in our community get back on their feet.

Laura Devlin, Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, commented on today’s launch of their new brand – Bolster Community – and the outstanding work they do on the ground to support the local community:

“Bolster Community is such an apt new name for a charity that, over the past 16 years, has been steadfast in strengthening and supporting our community with its practical, people-first support services.

“Working in conjunction with existing partner services, Bolster Community continues to make a huge impact on people’s lives at a time when it’s needed most. The pandemic has been extremely challenging for everyone and devastating for those that are grieving loved ones. Bolster Community has been a haven, a best friend and a vital support partner to many in our community,” said Laura Devlin.

At their newly branded Marcus Street office in Newry, Jacinta Linden, CEO of Bolster Community, describes how the pandemic has affected people in our community:

Bolster is an old word, a return to old values where neighbours and community could be depended on to help each other and make things better. That’s exactly what we are committed to doing.

“Since the start of the pandemic, the level of anxiety has increased dramatically for everyone. People are fearful of infection, dealing with profound grief and are impacted by uncertainty for the future including their financial security. Redundancy and loss of income is really hitting home.

“Parents seeking help from the family support hub report heightened anxiety in their children – with many also needing help to manage increased household costs and others fighting to salvage relationships while struggling to maintain safe social boundaries for older children.

“Bolstering others to get through and get ahead is a good reflection of how we need to support our community in the coming months and years. This is especially true when considering the increased needs and demands on families with caring responsibilities for older relatives or children with additional needs.”

Bolster Community has supported countless children, parents, individuals of mixed ability and seniors facing life’s tough challenges. Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has adapted its services to strengthen and support those struggling to cope.

“Thankfully we’ve been able to weather the COVID-19 storm and be impactful in people’s lives through the resolve and flexibility of our team, and the incredible support of partners like The Southern Trust, The National Lottery and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. Together, we’ve achieved an astounding 10,000+ engagements with individuals and families over the first six months of COVID-19, delivering services in our centres, in people’s gardens, by phone, zoom and WhatsApp.

“COVID-19 continues to affect every member of our community, we’re not out of the woods yet. Sometimes we all need a little help to get by and when you do, Bolster Community has your back,” added Jacinta Linden.

If you or a family member need help or you are able to help Bolster Community do more good, please get in touch with the team: 028 3083 5764 or info@bolstercommunity.org