Bridie taking calls on Offaly's Community Call helpline
405 calls were made to Offaly’s Community Call helpline, aimed at supporting and assisting elderly or vulnerable residents during the lockdown, since it was set up. The freephone helpline has been operating since the end of March from 8am-8pm, 7 days a week as part of the Government response to the Covid-19 crisis whereby local authorities around the country set up Community Response Forums to respond to the needs of cocooning and vulnerable members of the community.
The majority of calls to the helpline, which is manned fully by county council staff, has related to seeking deliveries of food, fuel, medicines and medical supports or HSE issues. Support to the vulnerable has been coordinated using a multi-agency approach by the Community Response Forum with organisations such as Offaly Local Development Company; Offaly GAA; An Post; Local Link Laois Offaly; An Garda Síochána; Offaly Civil Defence and Saint Vincent de Paul.
Due to a significant reduction in calls recently owing to contacts now established between the vulnerable and the support agencies, the helpline will now operate on a slightly reduced timetable from 9am – 5pm, 7 days per week from Monday 8th June.
The Community Call has had a cohesive effect across the county, bringing together groups of people who would like to help others in their communities. Many of these have volunteered through the helpline but also through local community and voluntary groups. From GAA clubs to development associations the Faithful county has supported its own. Backed by the Covid Emergency fund of €65,553 administered by Offaly County Council, vital Meals-On-Wheels services have expanded throughout the county and many groups are offering “Friendly Call” services as well as providing delivery of vital supplies.
As information & communication are extremely important at this time, Offaly County Council have fully supported the ‘In this Together Campaign’ launched by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on April 24, aimed at helping people stay connected, stay active and look after their mental health while they are at home with regular publications in print and on social media. For example, Offaly Age Friendly Alliance have produced 2 editions of their Age Friendly Newsletter ‘Connecting the Faithful’ which has been delivered to 4,000 homes where people are cocooning free of charge by An Post and is also available on www.offaly.ie.