Visit Belfast launches conference scheme to help fight food poverty

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Visit Belfast fight food poverty (L-R) Gerry Lennon - Visit Belfast, Eimear Kearney - Titanic Belfast, Andrew Dougan - Yellow Door, Rachael McGuickin - Visit Belfast and John Walsh - Belfast City Council. Photo Credit: Visit Belfast

A convention bureau has launched a campaign to help eradicate food poverty.

VisitBelfast's sustainable tourism focused ‘Changing the Menu. For Good’ project will enlist venues, caterers and event organisers to directly raise funds for local food banks.

The initiative will provide event organisers with four ways to help fight food poverty in the city by either donating the financial equivalent of a fourth course, donating a proportion of catering costs incurred during an event, rounding up delegate or catering fees or donating directly.

The scheme, which will run as a pilot into next year, is designed to drive more responsible and sustainable events, to promote social impact and legacy within our local communities, in addition to the economic benefits tourism already generates.

“By working collaboratively and creatively, Visit Belfast and our partners and stakeholders have identified targeted ways where the sector can continue to contribute positively to the city’s social well-being, and help tackle food poverty amid the cost-of-living crisis,” said Visit Belfast chief executive, Gerry Lennon.

“Funds raised will be used for food parcels, hot food and drinks, homeless outreach and for delivering emergency financial support to cover heating bills or essential supplies for those in need. It means everyone is playing their part and we look forward to more partners joining us to ensure its success.”

The six-month pilot initiative was launched in partnership with The People’s Kitchen. Speaking at the launch event, Paul McCusker, founder of the independently run charity, The People’s Kitchen, which provides support to over 1,000 vulnerable people in Belfast weekly, said: “It’s no longer just the homeless that are relying on the service, as the cost-of-living crisis hits, we are seeing increasing numbers of families and people with poor mental health in need.”

He added: “As an independent charity, we rely heavily on supporter funding, initiatives like Changing the Menu. For Good, are invaluable and crucial to ensure we can deliver the immediate support required. The team at Visit Belfast has shown great support for our organisation - to have an initiative like this in place will help us look ahead and better forecast how best to support those in need.”

Visit Belfast is targeting a number of business events, gala dinners and conferences booked in the city, with event organisers already on board including, PHUSE EU Connect (The Global Healthcare Data Science Community), Business Travel Association and The Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance.

Holly Patrick
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Holly Patrick
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A desire to travel led Holly Patrick to the business meetings and events world and she’s never looked back. Holly takes a particular interest in event sustainability and creating a diverse and inclusive industry. When she’s not working, she can be found rolling skating along Brighton seafront listening to an eclectic playlist, featuring the likes of Patti Smith, Sean Paul, and Arooj Aftab.

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