Age Action and the Irish Red Cross are launching a Covid-19 Hardship Fund in partnership, to support people experiencing difficulties meeting costs associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unexpected costs can put an added strain on older people and the Hardship Fund will assist with the costs of increased food bills and associated delivery costs, replacing or upgrading essential small appliances, additional transport, energy or communication costs and the costs of additional safety or security equipment to enable older people to remain safe and well in their homes.
Official poverty statistics from the CSO indicate that 11.4 per cent of people aged 65 years and over were ‘at risk’ of poverty in 2018 - meaning they are not able to withstand the immediate economic impact of COVID-19. People over the age of 65 depend on social protection for more than three-quarters of their income, for many older people the State Pension is often their only source of income.
Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action, said: "Older people are among the groups who are at high risk of the impacts of Covid-19 and we know some older people in vulnerable situations will need additional assistance and financial support, particularly as they cocoon over the coming weeks.
"We have designed this scheme to provide immediate practical relief to alleviate some of the day to day hardships they will experience due to Covid-19, such as increases in their living costs for additional shopping and deliveries, increased bills and transport costs for essential appointments.
“This fund will provide additional assistance to vulnerable older people around Ireland who are experiencing hardship as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic by making once-off grants, up to a maximum of €500, per person/household affected.
“Older people, family members supporting an older person and carers of older people can apply as well as Social Workers and Local Community Organisations providing direct assistance to vulnerable older people. You can apply for financial assistance with the costs of practical needs that are adding to hardship as a direct result of COVID-19 and increased social distancing restrictions over the coming weeks."
Paddy Connolly added: "This could be assistance for an older person with maintaining their ability to stay safe and well in their own home as they cocoon, such as the cost of handrails, additional security or safety equipment, providing assistance with the costs of food, basic provisions and their delivery, providing funds to buy or update small appliances such as a fridge, freezer, cooker, TV or washing machine, paying for additional transport and energy costs or the cost of additional phone bills."
Liam O’Dwyer, Secretary General of The Irish Red Cross, said: "The focus of The Red Cross in Ireland is to ensure that people who find themselves in vulnerable situations have the capacity, with support, to be resilient and manage their own lives. Support like the Hardship Fund gives older people that additional capacity and our members are delighted to be of support in this very unusual time. We are really pleased to work with Age Action who are leaders in the area of independent living."
The Covid19 Hardship Fund will run for the duration of the coronavirus health crisis in Ireland. More information, and how to donate to the Hardship Fund, is available online at www.ageaction.ie or www.redcross.ie or by calling Age Action on (01 ) 4756989 or the Irish Red Cross at (01 ) 6424600 or emailing [email protected] or [email protected].
Initial funds have been raised with the generous assistance of a number of business leaders and corporates, including Tesco, Denis O’Brien, Gas Networks Ireland, Deloitte, RSA Insurance, Prepay Power and Hibernian REIT.