Mr Michael Ring, TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, has emphasised the important role of communities in supporting their vulnerable neighbours over the coming weeks.
The mobilisation of local community & voluntary groups and the engagement of volunteers at local level can play a crucial part in ensuring that vulnerable people living in the community can continue to have their needs met in the event that their usual sources of support become unavailable.
Minister Ring said: “The COVID-19 outbreak presents a challenge for individuals and communities across Ireland. In these exceptional circumstances, all community members have a role to play in helping those who may require additional support.
“Basic needs such as doing the weekly shopping, ensuring the house is warm and clean and keeping in regular contact by phone are among the tasks that local volunteers can carry out to enable vulnerable people to continue to live their daily lives safely in the community.
“My Department is putting arrangements in place to support communities in helping vulnerable neighbours in their communities over the coming weeks. The supports provided by my Department will play a vital role in the overall Government response to the current situation.
“I note from social media in recent days the numerous offers of help from people within our communities to assist more vulnerable people. I very much welcome this, and we are working to coordinate and support these efforts. At the same time, I would strongly advise communities and volunteers to follow the most recent advices from the HSE and ensure that this is the message being delivered across our community network.
“My Department is leading efforts across Government to encourage and facilitate community engagement in response to the needs of vulnerable people – such as older people or people with disabilities – who are living independently in the community.
“Stakeholders in the community and voluntary sector with whom my officials are engaging include Alone, Age Friendly Network, Volunteer Ireland, Pobal, The Wheel, the ILDN, Irish Rural Link and many more.
“At the core of this is the continued provision of support to the most vulnerable members of our communities, and what we can do to help them.
“The Department is also working with Volunteer Ireland and the 22 Volunteer Centres around the country to enable them to match people who wish to volunteer with priority tasks, as identified by local statutory and voluntary service providers.
“While a whole of Government coordinated approach is the backbone to planning for and managing the effects of this emergency, solutions are ultimately implemented at a community level. My Department is working on a number of specific actions in partnership with the community and voluntary sector to support communities in their efforts.”