BAR OWNER RAISES THOUSANDS TO HELP THOSE STRUGGLING

A BANGOR businessman has raised over £10,000 to help local people with their energy bills. Last month, Michael Brennan, owner of the Betty Blacks on High Street, launched his campaign via social media to help end energy poverty in the local community as the cost living crisis continues to bite. In a Facebook video, he said his intention was to give five families £200 each to help them pay for their energy bills leading up to Christmas. He urged viewers to describe why they believe someone they know would need the £200 for their energy bills, without mentioning the individual’s name to protect their privacy. In light of Mr Brennan’s generous efforts, more and more businesses joined his initiative. Five days after his efforts began, the Bangor business owner was able to help 51 families in the area, with a raised sum of £10,200. “ I didn’t expect the response that there was, I just expected to do five families and move on,” said Mr Brennan. “You can’t really go on and buy someone electric because you need their card and most people have meters, maybe they need oil, maybe they need gas” Mr Brennan added. With his significant reach in the local area, Michael Brennan has gained significant attention with his update videos reaching a large number of viewers. “Every time somebody gives me money I do a video to say ‘listen, the number is up. We are going to help another few families’. Generally if I put a video up on Facebook, and if something gets to semi-popularity, it’s 10,000, 20,000 people I would reach.” Like many businesses, Betty Blacks struggled during the Covid lockdowns. Now the bar owner believes he is in a valuable position to help people in his community. “As a business owner, things were not great through Covid. We are now in an energy crisis, but we have an ability to help, to make a slight difference for someone,” he said. “What is very little to us, can make a real difference to somebody else. So why not try and help if you can. The local community is who my customers are, and they are struggling. For years they have financed my life, so why shouldn’t I help them?” “You can’t help everybody, you just can’t. If I won the Euro millions I couldn’t help everybody. “There have been 10 or 15 houses in the last week that physically had no electricity when I arrived,” he added. With the generous donations from countless local businesses, the owner of Betty Blacks describes the appreciation people have for this help in light of the cost of living crisis. “People do appreciate it. The ones I do bring it to generally send a message to you when you leave saying ‘thanks very much, you really took the pressure off’. People are generally kind and nice and decent,” he said. “A lady sent me a picture of her newborn baby saying ‘thanks I have heating on’, and another lady sent me a picture of her electric meter with the whole £200 in it.”