Mr Michael Ring TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, has launched the COVID-19 Government Action Plan to support the Community response to the ongoing crisis.
This Action Plan, which has been put together in partnership with other Government Departments, State Agencies and our extensive network of community and voluntary organisations, sets out three key areas of initial focus in supporting a community response to COVID-19.
Coordination of community volunteering efforts in Mayo will be coordinated by the Mayo Volunteer Centre in Ballina. There is also a Mayo Volunteer Centre office in Castlebar which will be supporting local volunteering efforts.
The three key initiatives in today’s announcement by Minister Ring are:
• Letting people know how and where they volunteer through our partnership with Volunteer Ireland and our network of Volunteer Centres
• To provide community supports for older people by providing funding to ALONE for their crisis telephone support line and follow through practical supports
• Launching an email helpdesk facility in the Department of Rural and Community Development to assist smaller community groups with their queries
The Government has committed to putting the required funding and resources in place immediately and Minister Ring’s Department will be working with their partners to implement the measures on the ground as quickly as possible. Work in this regard has already commenced.
The unprecedented circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 crisis will require the re-prioritisation, and re-direction of activities, new contingency arrangements to maintain and support critical services, and new flexibilities in the use of resources in the community and voluntary sector.
Minister Ring said: "I want to assure everyone that the Government is taking every possible action to pre-empt and prepare for the challenges we are facing now and for the ones that lie ahead. Here in Mayo, we have great communities which are reaching out and supporting the elderly and vulnerable individuals who are most at risk in this crisis.
"I commend those local volunteers and groups which are supporting others in their communities. We are most fortunate that we have the people, the organisations, the systems and the goodwill already in place and we will be supportive and flexible in our approach.
"We have the Public Participation Network, Volunteer Centres, sporting bodies, farming organisations, community councils and other stakeholders and agencies all in place.
"My Department is providing a focus for people so our national community efforts will be co-ordinated for optimum effect. Now is the time for the big meitheal. Now is the time to demonstrate once again our ability as a nation to help each other and look after the most vulnerable in our communities."
This Action Plan, which has been put together in partnership with other Government Departments, State Agencies and our extensive network of community and voluntary organisations, sets out three key areas of initial focus in supporting a community response to COVID-19. Minister Ring also drew attention to his Department’s Seniors Alert Scheme, which provides monitored alarms for older people to enable them to live safely and securely in their homes.
There are now approximately 80,000 of these alarms in the community and Minister Ring urged older people who have them to ensure they are activated saying: "Maybe you got a pendant alarm a few years ago but it’s lying forgotten in a drawer somewhere … now is the time to find it and contact your local community organisation to ensure it’s activated."
The Minister also reminded people to only use information received from official sources. "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.
"In this context, my Department has a role to play in fostering the links that bring communities together as we are aware of how strengthening community links helps to improve preparedness and responsiveness in emergencies. The dedicated Helpdesk service to registered community organisations is c&[email protected]
"It is also really important to remember that volunteering should be done in a safe way so that neither volunteers nor those in need are put at risk. A lot of existing volunteers are older and may be self-isolating, so we also need new volunteers to step forward.
"I commend those at the Mayo Volunteer Centres for their hugely important work in helping to coordinate these efforts and I am glad that my Department is able to support them in this work."