From the very start of the COVID-19 emergency, in March 2020, it was recognised that people who were cocooning, self-isolating or quarantining would need extra help, particularly if their usual networks of support would not be able to reach them. For that reason, and to put in place a safety net for such people, some of whom would be among the most vulnerable in our communities, national and local government came together with the community and voluntary sector to launch the “Community Call” initiative.
Led by the local authority, a Community Call Forum was established in each local authority area. It brings together key local players, like the HSE, An Garda Síochána, Civil Defence, community and voluntary organisations and volunteers, and local Councillors, together with national organisations, such as ALONE, and is helping to ensure that everyone who needs support is identified, the support required is carefully assessed and the appropriate support is provided, by a tried and trusted local source.
Each Community Call Forum is providing practical supports like the collection and delivery of food, meals, fuel, medication, pensions and other essential items, in strict accordance with public health advice. Dedicated helplines are in place in each local authority to answer and respond to calls for help.
Since March 2020, the Community Call helplines have answered over 60,000 calls and have made over 23,000 follow up calls.
Community Call Fora convened again following the introduction of the current level 5 public health restrictions to reassess needs in the community and to coordinate the necessary response.
Helplines remain open and full details can be found on www.gov.ie/en/publication/1f06f7-covid-19-community-call-local-authority-helpline-numbers-and-email-a/ or on the website of your local authority.
ALONE, the organisation supporting older people, is also operating a National Support Line to provide emotional support and reassurance, and practical help, to vulnerable older people: https://alone.ie/.