300 plus strong network of personnel on the ground to provide for daily needs of vulnerable – call 1800 832 005
AN unprecedented, official coming together of stakeholder organisations is set to harness the incredible groundswell of volunteerism in response to the COVID-19 threat across Limerick.
Limerick City and County Council in partnership with the HSE, An Garda Síochána, GAA, IRFU, FAI, Liveable Limerick, the Catholic and Church of Ireland and multiple sporting and volunteer groups will from today collaborate in the most concerted, organised and official volunteer response from any one county to support people during the crisis.
The ‘Limerick COVID-19 Community Response’ will see a coordinated centre in place at the Limerick GAA headquarters at Castletroy, where volunteer staff will answer calls to a dedicated helpline – 1800 832 005 – from vulnerable people seeking assistance with daily needs. These will include shopping, prescriptions, supplies, information or other suitable requests.
The centre, which will operate from 8a.m. to 6p.m. seven days per week, will officially commence tomorrow.
The official response will tap into the personnel-rich network of volunteers across Limerick as they respond to individual asks to the helpline. It will be anchored on the ground by the GAA’s 66 clubs across Limerick, who will provide up to 300 volunteers alone. They will be augmented by volunteers from other sporting and community organisations.
Said Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Michael Sheahan, “While this is potentially the single biggest crisis we have faced as a nation in living memory and long before, one cannot be but heartened by the incredible spirit of volunteerism that has poured out in response to this crisis. The Limerick COVID-19 Community Response is a perfect example of that and I’m proud as Mayor of Limerick that, not only have we got this incredible public reaction but we have the wherewithal and focus to pull it altogether with this coordinated response.”
Said Chief Officer of HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare Maria Bridgeman: “Our ability to overcome the COVID-19 virus will be massively enhanced by working together as a people like never before. A key element of the response is making sure that people who are most vulnerable in this crisis are safe and isolated from the virus yet not cut-off. That’s a challenge, but the establishment of the Limerick COVID-19 Community Response is a brilliant answer to how we get that right. People who are vulnerable will need to stay at home but they will get their daily needs met in their community by someone from their community.”
Said Chief Supt. Gerard Roche of An Garda Síochána, Limerick: “An Garda Síochána is delighted to help in any way it can in this crisis.
We have made two sergeants available to the Limerick COVID-19 Community Response and our teams at all stations across the county will be ready to support as required.
This is an extraordinary time in all our lives and it requires an extraordinary response. The establishment of this official, coordinated volunteer network will do an awful lot for all those isolated in this crisis. It will not alone be an essential service but it will give confidence, trust and security as well. People may be isolated to protect them from this virus but they will know as a result of this initiative that they are not alone.”
Those wishing to volunteer are asked to contact [email protected]. All volunteers will work to agreed guidelines and regulations and will sign a health protocol before they commit to involvement.
A team of six will be involved in dealing with the calls; three will record the requests and three will be making contact with volunteer coordinators in the relevant community who, in turn, will make contact with a volunteer on the ground to carry out the task. It is expected that as the service expands, additional volunteers will be added to the operations centre team.
For calls received that are not within the parameters of the initiative, the on-site Garda Sergeant will either refer the details to the communications room in Henry Street Garda Station, who will dispatch a unit to deal with the call, or give the caller the appropriate advice and refer to the relevant agency i.e. HSE or Dept. Social welfare etc.
The overall project is being overseen by Limerick City and County Council officers and the centre will have a continuous Garda presence. Volunteers will operate the customer service helpline, with all present applying physical distancing.
The Limerick COVID-19 Community Response builds on the very many great initiatives taken by existing organisations and new groups in Limerick in the weeks gone by.
Marketing and communications tools will also be used to promote the resource, including an awareness leaflet with key details of the service being distributed to 75,000 homes across the county by An Post and a concerted media and social media promotion, using #LKTogether #MidWestTogether #COVID19 .