Charity makes bid for council cash

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A charitable organisation has put forward a pitch to ‘put to better use’ council’s proposed £75,000 spend on legacy events.

While largely commended for their forward-thinking, the proposal by Portadown Cares for a family centre to address poverty in the Portadown and Craigavon area, would not cover the Lurgan area.

With all of the £75,000 being spent to set up the centre in Portadown, Lurgan would become the poor relations of the arrangement if council saw fit to hand over the cash.

Portadown Cares, who provide food, electric and furniture to families who are living in the extremes of poverty, wrote to acting council chief executive Robert Colvin with their proposal and got a prompt response as he agreed to meet with them.

A spokesperson for Portadown Cares said: “We were out delivering hampers across the borough at Christmas. When we saw the conditions some people were living in, not even able to afford a loaf of bread, it made the council’s £75,000 spend on fireworks and civic receptions even more outrageous. That’s why we wrote to council to propose our plan to address the poverty issue and leave behind a different legacy.

Confirming that the project wouldn’t stretch as far as Lurgan, the spokesperson said: “We’re reliant on a small team of volunteers. At the minute we don’t have the resources or local knowledge to cover the Lurgan area.”

Mount Zion House in Lurgan offer a similar service to Portadown Cares, supporting families through advice and by referring them to most appropriate agencies.

After learning of council’s proposed spent on legacy events, Mount Zion manager Janice Bunting wrote to the ABC network and the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action to make them aware of council’s plans.

She said: “In these times of austerity I think there are more appropriate things the money could be spent on.

“The community and voluntary sector is under threat so from a personal point of view this would be money we could put to good use.”