Bluebell community rallies to tackle pandemic poverty

by Gazette Reporter

By Rose Barrett

The Bluebell community has come together to support families who are struggling with a new level of hardship in the pandemic.

Food poverty is now a sad reality for countless households and activists in the close-knit Dublin 12 area have united to offer a lifeline to others.

Tommy Coombes, manager of Bluebell Community Development Project (CDP), told Dublin Gazette: “The People’s Food Bank was officially launched in recent weeks but began five years ago from the back of Pastor Jimmy Dunne’s car.

“Pastor Jimmy from Bluebell Community Church is the recognised face of the church within our community, he brings Christianity to the people, to the wider district.

“Pastor Jimmy accepted donations from various supermarkets and from Food Cloud. We’d divvy it up and give it to those who needed it most. We’ve been doing this for years, but the spread of the pandemic and the explosive impact was quickly realised.

“We saw a whole new vulnerability exposed, people formerly employed were now out of work, especially those within the hospitality sector.

“A new cohort of need was identified; we went from getting 400 hundred kilos of food a week from Foodcloud to needing to 2.4m tonne a week.

“That is the reality of the crisis. A lot of organisations closed down, but we went from five days a week with the CDP to working six days a week.”

Cllr Daithí Doolan (SF), a member of Bluebell Community Council and Ballyfermot Partnership, said: “I applaud the work carried out by Bluebell Community Council and how they responded to a vital need.

“The work and launch of Bluebell Foodbank is real ‘people co-operation’ in action, a truly genuine community-based response to food poverty.”

He warned: “The housing crisis is still there. But during Covid, it was superseded by food poverty, and at a level we hadn’t seen before, with 300 food parcels also delivered to Ballyfermot.”

Tommy noted that despite a population of 2,000 Bluebell has no doctor, no supermarket, no dentist and no community nurse.
He has been working towards the regeneration of the area for several years.

He said: “It’s not just food we deliver, we collect and deliver prescriptions, we chat from the doorstep and engage with many. One of our staff every week brings croissants, apple tarts and flowers to our more elderly, vulnerable people.

“Loneliness and isolation are also a killer so we do a best to address that too, both within our community and beyond.”

Contact 01 456 8113 or 01 460 1366 for more information or support.

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