Children and young people are bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has heard as she continues to meet with voluntary and community organisations.
The Minister today visited Belfast-based Kinderkids Daycare, Whiterock Children's Centre and Upper Springfield Development Trust, which provide support to families living in some of the most deprived areas and supported by the Department through Neighbourhood Renewal funding.
Soaring food, fuel and energy costs are leaving these families in crisis, the Minister was told.
Paying tribute to the work of the community-based groups, Minister Deirdre Hargey said:
"I really value the support provided by organisations like Ashton Community Trust through Kinderkids, Whiterock Children's Centre and Upper Springfield Development Trust.
"We know people are struggling and those costs are beginning to mount, that trajectory is upwards as inflation continues to rise - and there is no end in sight to this crisis.
"The services provided by the amazing teams here are a lifeline to so many children, young people and their families."
"Families with children and young people are facing two months of increased costs as the school term comes to an end, many of these families cannot afford household bills or the cost of summer schemes or activities. They are at breaking point.
"I have been listening carefully to service providers, representative groups and to individuals and have tasked my officials to consider all possible options to provide much-needed support.
"I have recently provided Pound 1,500 energy support payments to more than 160 groups including Kinderkids and Upper Springfield Development Trust; I have also reconvened the Emergencies Leadership Group in direct response to the cost of living crisis but more needs to be done to help people with this burden, which is being exacerbated by the lack of an Executive and no budget in place."
The three community-based groups provide a range of services including childcare, community food support, mentoring, counselling, support for children with special needs, literacy and numeracy services and youth programmes - with tailored support for marginalised groups including minor ethnic communities, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities.