Avondhu Blackwater Partnership’s Community Connect Programme answers the call
It is often during very difficult times that the importance of certain supports and services have a light shone upon them and the critical role that they play in our community. That has certainly been the case with Avondhu Blackwater Partnership’s ‘Community Connect’ programme.
“The Community Connect programme which provides valuable services to the older generation in our society has become a huge focus for the company during the Covid 19 crisis” says Valerie Murphy, CEO, of Avondhu Blackwater Partnership.
“We had to respond quickly to their needs particularly given the isolation they would experience as a result of the cocooning restrictions. We were able to redeploy staff members to help in this effort. They were only too happy to answer the call”.
Mary Allen, programme supervisor with Community Connect, says the additional resources have facilitated the expansion of the friendly call service during the Covid 19 crisis. Through the Community Connect befriending telephone service volunteers and staff have increased social contact with older people who are isolated in their homes at this time and they have been making sure they have the support they need to continue cocooning. People are happy to get the call and feel more secure knowing that they can call on us if needed. ‘It is so good of you to check in, it is great to see we haven’t been forgotten about’ has been typical of the feedback we have been getting from our callers.
The calls have also been essential in linking people to other vital services including Cork County Council’s Covid 19 Community Call, SHEP and ALONE for those experiencing stress and isolation. Cork Education Training Board are currently helping people to use technology to enable them make contact with family and friends. Avondhu Blackwater Staff have also gone the extra mile for people, taking personal responsibility for picking and delivering shopping, medicines and being advocates for those in isolation who have ongoing issues that need to be resolved such as persisting with telephone companies to ensure faulty lines are repaired, which are the only means of communication for a lot of older people.
Meanwhile Community Connects Handyman service has been working on full throttle throughout the Covid 19 crisis. While the two Handymen, Arthur and Tim, have only been able to complete outdoor work, there has been a huge demand for their services. It is these unsung heroes that go about their work quietly that Mary Allen feels deserve special mention for their dedication to the work.
Mary Allen would also like to put a call out for new volunteers for the friendly call service as the additional calls that have been made throughout the Covid 19 crisis has highlighted more than ever the numbers of older people living alone who need to hear a friendly voice, to make them feel connected to and valued by their community.
It was Gandhi who said “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”. While we are living through these uncertain times it is comforting to know that we have organisations and individuals in our local community that are dedicated to helping and protecting the most vulnerable in our society.