Animal lovers have been given a helping hand to feed their pets thanks to a partnership between a local business and Carrickfergus foodbank.
The Trussell Trust service, based at Jordan Victory Church on the Woodburn Road, provides a three-day emergency supply of food to families in crisis who have been referred to the service.
And now the foodbank is aiding families with pets too, thanks to a voucher which can be redeemed at Carrick Pet Stores in the town centre.
The North Street shop has been supporting the venture for several months, according to owner Ian Paisley.
“Foodbanks are obviously aimed towards people but a lot of the people using them have pets too,” Ian said.
“There isn’t a lot of knowledge about what help there is available for that side of things.
“We are contributing towards families who maybe aren’t as well off and it’s nice to be able to do that.”
The community aspect of the venture is just as important, Ian added.
“It would be good to get other local businesses involved in something like this - for example if there are businesses who have overstock of things like clothes or blankets, they could donate them to people who are in need over the winter,” he said.
The voucher scheme itself was funded chiefly by a supporter in the community, who wishes to remain anonymous.
“If people are struggling to feed their own families at this time of year, all they’re going to be able to give their pets is leftovers,” the resident told the Times.
“It’s good to see Carrick businesses backing the community, but anyone can support their local foodbank.”
There are also hopes of funding a dog-walking service for the elderly or those with a disability, the supporter added.
Meanwhile, the option of pet food vouchers is little-known among users of the local foodbank.
Gwen Smyth from the Carrickfergus foodbank team said: “A lot of people don’t realise it’s something we offer because it’s not the norm, but there are a lot who take up the option of the pet food voucher when they come in to get the emergency packs.
“It’s better than us having tins of pet food here [at the warehouse], as they could go out of date and this allows people to chose the right sort of food for whatever kind of pet they have.”
Carrick Pet Stores is also a regular supporter of the Pets Club at Downshire School.