Allen advocates for a comprehensive approach to address poverty

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Allen advocates for a comprehensive approach to address poverty

In response to a concerning report on hunger in Northern Ireland released by the Trussell Trust, Andy Allen MBE, Ulster Unionist Party MLA for East Belfast and Communities spokesperson, highlights the need for closer collaboration between government departments, voluntary sector organisations, and the business community. He has called for the establishment of a task force and the development of a ten-year plan to eradicate poverty in Northern Ireland through joint efforts.

"In recent months, I have engaged with representatives from various Community and Voluntary sector organisations who provide services throughout Northern Ireland. These organisations are at the forefront of the battle against the escalating number of individuals and families living in poverty.


"The Trussell Trust's latest report reinforces the growing pressures faced by an increasing number of people in Northern Ireland. Rising food costs, mortgage expenses, energy prices, and a lack of leadership at Stormont make it increasingly difficult for individuals and families to stay afloat. Charitable and community organisations, already dealing with budget cuts and reduced fundraising capabilities, are now strained to the point where the safety net is starting to fray.


"This report sheds light on the individuals approaching food banks for the first time and emphasizes the impact of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis on the most vulnerable, including those with low incomes and disabilities.


 “In the past year, I facilitated productive round table discussions involving energy companies, community and voluntary organisations, the Utility Regulator, and fellow elected representatives. The focus of these discussions was on the escalating energy costs that continue to pose a significant challenge for numerous households, coupled with other financial pressures, such as soaring food costs. The outcomes of these meetings played a role in helping to shape the response that provided assistance to some of the most affected households, whilst sharing valuable information. 


“Considering the ongoing challenges, I would urge the Head of the Civil Service, in the continued absence of a functioning Government, to establish a poverty task force. This task force should adopt an all-party round-table approach, involving local retail representatives, every government department, and the wider Community and Voluntary Sector. By engaging in open and honest discussions, we can explore immediate measures to assist the increasing number of individuals being pushed into poverty. Together, we can work towards viable solutions for those in need.


"It is the responsibility of every elected representative, at every level of government, to actively engage in identifying and implementing not only immediate short-term support but also comprehensive plans for medium and long-term interventions to combat poverty.


"We should challenge ourselves to eradicate poverty in Northern Ireland within the next ten years. Achieving this goal will require commitment, tough decision-making, and, most importantly, a functioning Executive that is dedicated to serving our people."