The coronavirus lockdown has hit the people we work with very hard. Many are already isolated from their communities, so what’s happening has opened a lot of people’s eyes in households across Northern Ireland as to what it’s like to be cut off from others.

That’s why the Hardship Appeal is such a game-changer for our work. The money that’s donated really is going directly to those who need it most, whether that’s to help buy credit for electric or heating, or even just some basic food supplies.

It’s tough enough coping with what’s going on right now when you have what you need to survive. So imagine what it’s like trying to cope all alone, with an empty stomach, in a cold house or when you have no money for light?

Some other organisations can tell people that they must ‘change their ways’ before they help them … but we're not like that in Extern. We take people as we meet them. One girl I worked with recently had been using prescription drugs for years, but kept it secret because she had a young daughter in the house.

That led to a lot of issues around child protection but after working very closely together for about six months she was able to cut back significantly on what she was taking. The difference I saw in her over that time was amazing, and she was able to get full custody of her daughter back again, which made me so happy and proud for her!

Those are the kinds of differences we make every day when we work for Extern, and at this time if we can also offer people who are in need some extra support and kindness then we are glad to be able to do it.

For details on the team, visit here