Food bank demand 'astronomical' in Co Fermanagh, says pastor

Demand on a Fermanagh food bank is 'astronomical' compared with previous years as money is tight, many struggle to pay the bills and some simply can't afford the basics, UTV's View from Stormont has found.Pastor John Shades, from the Lakes Vineyard church in Enniskillen, said they had fed some 5,000 people in the past year.

"It's never been as bad as it is at the moment."

He explained: "We get people from all spectrums. You've got people who are on benefits but you've got people who are professional."

The cost of living has affected all aspects of life.

Last week interest rates hit a 15-year high at 5%. Those living in rural areas like Fermanagh also face different challenges.

Food bank demand has soared

"There can be different severity in rural areas in terms of access to infrastructure, it's more difficult to get to hospitals, schools there's increased loneliness and isolation. No Stormont is making a dire situation much worse. There's no political accountability," Dr Ciara Fitzpatrick warned.

Michael McKenzie started a business in Fermanagh in 2018. He had to adapt through the tough times. 

He told View From Stormont: "I think the biggest struggles have been the unknown.

"The cost of electricity has been up and down and how that affects your customer base and how much money they have to spend. It's really important to get Stormont up and running.

"Decisions need to be made, things need signed off. Everything has been put on hold nothing can move forward.

"How can NI evolve or allow it to become more resilient with this cost of living that we are facing?"

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