Milburn Community Association along with other local communities and businesses have combined to provide Milburn Community Support Task Force.
Having heard from a friend in Italy about the effects of lockdown there, the group decided to think about what was needed in the area and the Task Force created a Four Strand Approach to meeting local need.
The key areas identified as being of importance were:
Prescription Pick Up
Community Food Bank
Each area has a community leader heading up the co-ordination of that particular theme, but Milburn have gone above and beyond is some of these areas. In order to provide the hot food deliveries, they have completely re-purposed the local Community Café and created a subsidised menu that is available for those in greatest need.
The food is prepared in the kitchens and is then brought to a service area where customers used to sit to be put into foil packs, drivers come in one door and exist via another with 8-10 packs per run. Where the hot food part for Milburn has also been innovative, is that they have been able to utilise the skills of professional chefs, on a voluntary basis, who have been furloughed from their normal workplace of the Newbridge Restaurant. The Newbridge has also provided the loan of professional catering equipment to the Community Café which has allowed them to increase capacity of hot meals.
Billy Ellis, Development Officer said: ‘We just couldn’t allow the café to close at this time as we think it is the heartbeat of our Milburn Community’.
The Task Force has 15 volunteer drivers at present, and this part is managed remotely by Brendan Patterson from Focus on Family.
With prescriptions, they have been able to link in with another two local Coleraine businesses – scaling up their existing partnership with Community Development Health Network and Evan Reid Pharmacy along with Paul Logan, a Community Tennis Coach who has been able to give his time to co-ordinate this strand.
The group have also linked in with Tesco and Asda in Coleraine, who have donated bread produce and the group are able to do a bread delivery run each morning. They also contacted Fareshare NI at the beginning of current crisis and are now operating as a Food Bank in direct response to the need in the area. This links very closely into the Milburn Shopping Strand. If someone phones and is in need of shopping being picked up, the Food Bank can help support the need in the first instance. If not, they will pick up from the local supermarket. All of this is being co-ordinated by Jen Robinson whose job has also changed from normally being the Veteran Support Officer.
Milburn continue to deliver hot food to those vulnerable, elderly or in crisis in the 100s every week and link with local businesses to meet community.
The group continues to work with Council’s COVID 19 Hub as well to help support those who have been referred through this pathway.