Covid-19: ‘We are all in this together’

(Above) Tara Duigenan, Westmeath Community Development employee, with Bob Heath from Mullingar, who said: “I’m delighted with the service, it has helped me out no end. I’m very grateful.”

As part of the government response to the Covid-19 crisis, local authorities have established a Covid-19 Community Call Forum to provide support and services to any vulnerable person who needs them.

Ireland’s 49 Local Development Companies are community partners for government and agencies that are embedded in the Community Call response and are using their infrastructure, knowledge, and trusted relationships to help respond to Covid-19.

As the local development company here, Westmeath Community Development (WCD) is leading a number of essential services supporting those most in need. It has redeployed staff to the community response, providing support with collection and delivery of essential items like food, household items, fuel and medicine.

WCD CEO, Frank Murtagh, said: “We are delighted to be part of the Community Call for Westmeath, and I am proud of how responsive and adaptive the community and voluntary sector has shown themselves to be during this time to support the most vulnerable in our community.

“In particular, I am heartened by how receptive people have been to our support and the way that our staff in Westmeath Community Development have embraced this role.

“We are now supporting more than 200 individuals weekly with shopping, collecting prescriptions and phone support – and we expect this number to increase in the weeks ahead.”

Many of those availing of support services over the last few weeks since cocooning have spoken of their experience (see photos).

(Photo above) Sr Therese Mullin from Mullingar: “Liz (WCD employee) has been doing my shopping lately as I am cocooned. She is most helpful and gets my preferred items. I am most grateful for this service.”

(Photo above) Enda O’Carroll from Mullingar: “The reliable shopping service provided by Liz has removed a major anxiety for me during my cocooning.”

WCD delivers a variety of community support programmes which have come to the fore during this crisis, including:

Co-ordinating a Befriending Programme

A number of WCD employees are working on its Befriending programme, a social support for older people who feel lonely and isolated at this time. Regular phone calls have become a vital lifeline for older people who are cocooning and in need of additional supports. For further information on this programme, contact ACampbell@Westcd.ie.

Westmeath Volunteer centre

The Westmeath Volunteer Centre is working with all relevant government departments and community groups to support the response to Covid-19.

Close to 250 people in Westmeath have volunteered to help with the Covid-19 response, and the biggest challenge so far has been getting roles for these volunteers. For further information, visit https://volunteerwestmeath.ie/.

Community Mothers programme

Community Mothers are volunteers who use their experience as mothers to support and encourage new parents.

Home visits are a critical part of the service – however, since the Covid-19 restrictions, the service has adapted so that parents can access support through social media, phone calls and website.

The need for the Community Mothers programme has never been greater, as many new parents struggle with isolation, having no local networks or extended family nearby. For further information, visit http://www.cmums.ie/.

Employment Support and Training

As part of the ‘Be on call for Ireland’ campaign, WCD has designed a unique healthcare assistant online training programme that will upskill unemployed individuals while contributing to increasing the number of trained individuals to support the healthcare sector in Ireland.

Due to demand, a second online training programme is already being planned.

For further information on Employment Support please contact TMcKenna@westcd.ie.

For anyone in need of support, please contact the Covid-19 Community Call Helpline on Call – 1800 805 816

Email – covidsupport@westmeathcoco.ie

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