Cllr Sean O'Brien
STAFF of Offaly County Council have been commended to maintaining the local authority's services during the Covid-19 emergency.
Speaking at the monthly meeting of Tullamore Municipal District on Thursday last, Cllr Sean O'Brien said council personnel were working at weekends and at night-time to provide a comprehensive service to the public.
“It's great that we have a staff that are so adaptable in such a difficult time,” he stressed.
Cllr Neil Feighery said he would like to pay tribute to the council staff in all sections.
“We are all on a learning curve,” said Cllr Feighery who observed that the meeting was being conducted remotely due to social distancing guidelines.
Compliments to the staff were also extended by Cllr Declan Harvey, Cllr Ken Smollen, Cllr Danny Owens, Cllr Tony McCormack and the Cathaoirleach, Cllr Frank Moran.
Director of Services, Tom Shanahan said that despite the council's public offices being closed all services were being carried on as much as possible.
Staff Officer, Brenda Corbett said that a call centre has been established and has been up and running from March 30 to take calls from the public on the Community Call Helpline number 1800 81 81 81. People needing support can also email firstname.lastname@example.org
“This is a confidential service manned by council staff and operates from 8.00am to 8.00pm, seven days per week,” she added.
In a comprehensive report, Ms Corbett outlined that the service co-ordinates the delivery of food, fuel and medicine to vulnerable people where their usual source of support has become unavailable. It only deals with non-medical and non-emergency calls and refers callers as required to appropriate helplines and the Gardaí or the HSE in the case of emergencies.
The objectives of the helpline are to:
Signpost and refer callers to the appropriate agency supports, local and national helplines as required (e.g. OLDC, Gardaí, ALONE, the Samaritans, Citizens Information etc.) and
Co-ordinate and assist in the delivery of food, fuel and medicine to vulnerable people where their usual sources of support are unavailable, through community structures such as the GAA, Local Link Laois Offaly, and Offaly Local Development Company.
There were a total of 135 calls to the Helpline up to 8pm on Wednesday 8th April 2020.
30% of calls to date relate to deliveries of food, fuel or medicines
33% of calls relate to medical supports or HSE issues
11% of calls relate to problems of social isolation
55% of calls relate to other general queries, with a large proportion being offers of support from people who wish to volunteer their services and help in some way
134 of the 135 calls received to date have been referred to the relevant agency and closed
The number of calls received is in line with similar sized counties such as Laois
Call centre staff are working closely with agencies such as the GAA, OLDC, and An Garda Síochána
The GAA have devoted significant resources since the start of the crisis through its extensive network and are doing very valuable work on the ground
Offaly Local Development Company is delivering a wide range of community supports and is linking in with the GAA, Community Gardaí, Public Health Nurses, SVP, Meals on Wheels, Homefix West and South Offaly and other agencies
An interagency Community Support Forum has met 3 times to date, and will meet regularly for the duration of the crisis
The members of the Forum are Offaly County Council, HSE, GAA, OLDC, An Garda Síochána, ALONE, SVP, An POST, Offaly PPN, Local Link, Citizens Information Service, Túsla, IFA, Offaly Traveller Movement, Kildare Volunteer Centre (covering Offaly), Civil Defense, Offaly Library Service, Family Resource Centres, and Offaly Community Services.
“There is excellent co-operation between all of the agencies on the Forum,” stressed Ms Corbett.