Some of the activity bags prepared for children by Clara Family Resource Centre.

Fantastic list of community responses to COVID-19 pandemic across Offaly

Offaly County Council has paid tribute to the amazing response of volunteers throughout the county who have been rallying around to help the most vulnerable in our community.  
Through the Community Call Helpline and Response Forum, Offaly County Council has witnessed some extraordinary work being carried out on the ground. Here are some examples of their efforts.
Saint Vincent De Paul in Birr have been looking after 40-45 families per week on an ongoing basis and have seen an increase in people looking for assistance which has been possible thanks in part to funding made available by Offaly County Council.  They provide food, fuel, vouchers, and clothing to the families. Offaly SVP are currently seeking further volunteers to help during these difficult times and can be contacted on 061 317327 (Michelle Putti).
Bracknagh Community Association:  There are 30 volunteers in Bracknagh Village who ring their vulnerable neighbours to chat and check if they are in need of any supplies during this period. They are busy with deliveries of newspapers; groceries; prescriptions.  They have organised emergency repairs on a cooker; and are carrying out regular lawn maintenance for the elderly.  The village children are also involved in writing postcards to the elderly on a weekly basis.
Coolderry: A local contact card was produced in conjunction with the GAA and Brosna Press and was distributed throughout the area. A lovely initiative by the Christmas Party Committee saw the sending out of An Post postcards to all the Senior Citizen Christmas Party attendees. Families, neighbours and volunteers are providing support to all those cocooning and arranging for delivery of groceries.  Coolderry GAA have a list of volunteers ready to help when required.  Meals on Wheels are being offered in the area through Kilcormac Development Association following an expansion to the service thanks to funding by the council. Weekly social phone calls are being made to those cocooning and are being well received.  This helps to give an insight into how people are feeling. For the most part, people in the area are handling cocooning well.  It is felt that because of the rural location there are lots of activities around the farms and gardens which can occupy people without them leaving their homes.  However, there are some who are still very nervous that restrictions will become too relaxed too soon.  
Clara Family Resource Centre:  Since having to close its doors on Friday March 13 in accordance with government guidelines the staff of Clara FRC having been busy working away to support the public under new circumstances.  Over the past number of weeks, they have continually checked in with members and users of the centre through phone calls; text messages; emails; social media and from a distance outdoors.  The centre’s coordinator, Liz Fleming joined the Covid-19 Response Team in Offaly County Council to work with them to report any issues that the response team could help with. Bringing together knowledge and the means to get things done enabled the response team to identify gaps and look for ways to problem solve or, as often was the case, join up the dots. The need to have something fun to do was noticeable during this difficult time and it was decided to create a booklet full of jokes, games, puzzles and activities for all ages. This was kindly funded by Offaly County Council and the Department of Rural & Community Development.  The centre also identified the need to support parents in entertaining children. 
As a result, and in arrangement with Tullamore Family Resource Centre, nearly 300 bags were created for children full of colouring books, crafts, notebooks, colours etc. The bags allowed staff the opportunity to meet with the public from a distance as the bags were delivered over garden walls and outside of gates etc. Families were very appreciative of the supplies.

A volunteer with Ballycommon Training Centre's Meals on Wheels Service

Ballycommon Training Centre(BTC) has had a number of community services in place to help the community during the coronavirus lockdown. They are providing a Meals on Wheels Service for people in Ballycommon and the wider area and are following protocols to comply with new measures put in place including hand sanitising and the use of disposable gloves. The service is also providing delivery of essential groceries.
 The Friendly Call Service is a free telephone support for older people in the community who need someone to check in with them or just want a friendly chat. It can help reduce the isolation and loneliness experienced by some older people particularly those who are self-isolating and cocooning. It is also a reassurance for other family members who may be working and unable to check in at all times during the day. Alongside B.O.L.D (Ballycommon Organisation for Local Development) and Ballycommon GAA they have been providing a free delivery service for groceries, fuel or prescriptions to any member of the community who wishes to avail of it, including those who are vulnerable within the community who may need to self-isolate. This service is, therefore, available to all who do not wish to leave their homes. Thanks to funding by the council an initiative connecting senior citizens online for a variety of social activities has been put in place to keep seniors connected digitally and active mentally.
BLC Developments (Ballycumber) have not been found wanting went it comes to the community call and have certainly come up trumps in these difficult, unprecedented times.  Here the volunteers are preparing and delivering 30 nutritional hot meals 3 times per week in the locality to those who are vulnerable or cocooning.  They deliver freshly baked scones to members of the Tea Club who are having to remain at home as their weekly gathering is cancelled due to the coronavirus restrictions.  Since 2001, BLC have published a local newsletter “The Village Voice” and are continuing this means of vital communication during lockdown, distributing by hand and through the local shop and post office. As in some of the other areas deliveries of medicines and groceries are being carried out by volunteers in Ballycumber.  The group are truly delighted to have such wonderfully kind people in the community who are giving their time and assistance to those who need it most at this time.