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calendar04 May 2020

Author: Marianne Clough

An open letter to the First Ministers of Northern Ireland

An open letter to the First Ministers of Northern Ireland

Mrs Arlene Foster MLA and Ms Michelle O’Neill MLA
First Ministers of Northern Ireland
Stormont Castle

Dear First Ministers,
We are writing to you as leaders of Christian charities in Northern Ireland to offer our support to you
and the Executive at this time.
Our organisations and networks across Northern Ireland are used to stepping up and finding solutions,
creating community, and inspiring and resourcing people to act compassionately. Right now, in the most
difficult of times, we are doing what Jesus told us to do: to love our neighbour.
The Church has a body of highly motivated and experienced volunteers, on the ground in our cities,
towns and villages. Equipped by our charities they are:
● Helping communities manage their money and deal with personal debt
● Informing and supporting those needing government help
● Delivering food parcels to vulnerable people
● Ensuring children in poverty are prioritised
● Supporting young people in their wellbeing and mental health
● Supporting people in recovery from addictions
● Positively intervening in homelessness and rough sleeping
● Building communities and supporting families in a wide range of challenging situations
● Providing befriending and support to prison leavers
● Reaching those who are not online and ensure they are cared for
● Helping people stay healthy and positive, especially those with poor mental health
● Connecting those who want to give and volunteer with those in need
● Bringing hope and addressing loneliness at a very local level

We have been working locally in communities across the North and beyond and we stand ready to work
strategically in partnership with the Executive, local government and agencies at every level to ensure
the best possible response at this time. Please let us know how we can best work with the Government
to direct our specialist resources and volunteer networks to most effective use.
We also recognise that we will need to increasingly work together in the coming months as the country
begins to face the reality of a significant economic downturn, when charities and the Church will be
more needed than ever. We ourselves will not be immune to this downturn and anticipate reductions in
our own income, as across the whole charity sector.
We are committed for the long haul, but with this changing landscape we will also need the Executive to
stand with us – not for our own sake but for those we serve – to ensure this valuable work can meet the
growing need of the coming months and years. We are grateful for the steps the Executive has already
taken to support the sector and we look forward to positive engagement over the coming months as we
work together for the benefit of this place and all our people.
Thank you for your leadership and be assured of our prayers for you and the Executive at this time.
Yours sincerely,

David Smyth, Head of Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland

Alison Flanagan, National Leader, Christians Against Poverty, Northern Ireland

The Reverend Brian Anderson, Mission Superintendent, East Belfast Mission

Mike Royal, Co-CEO, Cinnamon Network UK

Keeva Watson, Regional Development Manager Northern Ireland, Redeeming Our Communities

Diane Holt, Head of Thrive Ireland

Howard Davey, General Secretary, Belfast YMCA

Tony Silcock, CEO, Youth Iniitiatives

Ricky Wright, Chief Executive, Vineyard Compassion

Rev David Rock, The Big House Ireland

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