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Health Minister Robin Swann, Councillors, MLAs from the Mournes and Slieve Gullion DEAs, Council officials and friends joined Bolster Community last week to thank the volunteer drivers and family support team who have been working tirelessly through the 2020/21 Covid-19 pandemic to support the most vulnerable elderly and families across the locality.

Guests at the Bolster Community event pictured with Robin Swann, Health Minister and Oonagh Magennis, Deputy Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.
Guests at the Bolster Community event pictured with Robin Swann, Health Minister and Oonagh Magennis, Deputy Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

Participating in an awards ceremony, Robin Swann, Health Minister, said: “I am delighted to be able to recognise the valuable contribution by all those involved in the transportation of older people to and from hospital appointments and those providing assistance for the most vulnerable families and young adults with learning needs. Very often volunteers are not publicly acknowledged for the vital service they provide so this is a very welcome opportunity to meet and say thank you to our unsung heroes for their unique contribution.”

Jacinta Linden, CEO of Bolster Community told us, “I am humbled by the dedication that this small band of volunteers have shown to supporting the vulnerable in our community. At a time when many services were withdrawn, they stepped up to the challenge, not only providing transport but a listening ear to isolated older people during a very frightening time.  It was lovely to see so many of our elected representatives attend today to acknowledge these local heroes and  I would also like to thank Warrenpoint Golf Club for their hospitality.”

Also being celebrated on the day was the work that the Bolster Community Family Support Team carried out, particularly through the lockdown periods.  They delivered food, medicine, education resources and emotional support to families at a time when it was most needed. 

The Family Support Team and Volunteer Drivers pictured with Health Minister, Robin Swann.

Allison Slater, Operations Manager at Bolster said, “I am so proud of our team, they made themselves available to families in the evenings and weekends when they were most needed, going above and beyond what was expected of them during Covid.  When the parents of our young adults with learning needs asked for some face- to- face respite because they were concerned about the young people’s mental health; the team got together and came up with a plan to keep everyone safe, remaining compliant with guidelines and still ensuring everyone got some face-to-face support each week and additional group support via Zoom. “

Home2Hospital is a project that has been funded by NM&DDC since 2015 and provides transport to elderly people living in Slieve Gullion and The Mournes who have no alternative transport to attend out of area hospital appointments. Since starting the service the volunteers have provided transport to 2250 appointments across Northern Ireland.   Bolster Community are currently offering volunteering opportunities with Home2Hospital services, Family Support services and Afterschool activities for children with additional needs.  For further information please contact Paula on 02830835764

Bolster Community based at the Whitegates complex in Newry is a practical, hands-on charity and social enterprise that works alongside individuals, families, and communities to improve health and wellbeing.

Robin Swann, Health Minister and Oonagh Magennis, Deputy Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council pictured with the Family Support team.

Through their charity services, they have helped countless children, parents, young people with mixed ability and seniors to reach their full potential. They support ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges from early years right through to later years. With an uncompromising, people-first approach, they go the extra mile to complement existing services. 

In their social enterprise, our products are lovingly handcrafted by young adults of mixed ability and all profits go back into supporting their vital work. Shop and support them to do more good: WWW.BOLSTERCOMMUNITY.ORG

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