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Volunteers distribute water in Northern Ireland

29 December 2010

Emergency response volunteers co-ordinating resources© InfoAs 40,000 people across Northern Ireland struggle to cope without water supplies, the Red Cross has been working all hours to ensure that the most vulnerable are not left wanting.

The recent thaw – following a sustained period of freezing weather – has caused an unprecedented number of leaks in national water systems, according to NI Water. Emergency response volunteers and staff are providing vital support to local health and social care trusts by delivering drinking water to vulnerable residents who are unable to reach water distribution points.

Ten volunteers were out in the Belfast area until the early hours of this morning delivering containers of clean water to nursing homes and sheltered housing developments.

The organisation is encouraging vulnerable people to make themselves known to social services. Those assessed as being in severe difficulties due to age or health problems will then be referred for a Red Cross water delivery.

‘Extreme difficulties’

Joanne McKenna, senior service manager, said: “The Red Cross is always on hand to support the statutory services and local authorities during emergencies, such as the recent severe weather, and floods or fires. We’re now using our trained personnel and vehicles to get clean drinking water to those who need it most.

“We can’t respond to individual queries, but are co-ordinating with trusts and local authorities to identify those who urgently need our help. We understand that people across our communities are facing extreme difficulties and are committed to helping the most vulnerable.”

Joanne added: “We’re also encouraging the able-bodied to help their elderly neighbours – or those with small children – in whatever ways possible. This will help us direct our volunteers and resources at those people who have no other means of support.”

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