MORE than 1,200 calls have been answered by Clare’s Covid-19 Community Response Helpline since it was set up last March. Members of the Rural Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) were briefed at a meeting last week by Senior Executive Officer, Bernie Haugh, who outlined how the local authority continues to coordinate the service with the support of a county-wide network of volunteers.
“Up to February 14, the helpline has responded to 1,277 calls, with call relating to medical help needs, collection and delivery of food and fuel, the delivery of meals, social isolation and related queries,” Ms Haugh said.
Detailing the reasons people gave for using the helpline, Ms Haugh noted that many calls related to general council services. “The greatest volume of calls falls under the category of ‘Other Requests,’ which relates to queries regarding other council services, information and sign-posting, so the helpline has been used as a forum for people to tap into resources locally and nationally, throughout Covid,” she noted. “The largest volume of calls are received between 9am and 5pm, and we’re still providing an out-of-hours service daily from 5pm to 8pm. We’ve seen a significant decline in call volumes since the roll-out of the helpline, to be fair. This is attributed to the groundswell of volunteers in the community.”
Ms Haugh added that there are still more than 30 community volunteers working to deliver shopping, prescriptions, food and fuel, “as well as to make phone calls and maintain contact with people who would like some conversation and virtual company”. “While Covid and the restrictions have impacted on the volunteers, due to close contacts or some who were directly impacted by Covid,” she said, “we’ve continued to forge new links through the selfless volunteering spirit that continues to exist throughout Covid”.
Tailored support for those in the farming community are also available, Ms Haugh noted. “Local farmers are continuing to provide a farmer-support service and they’re also on our map on the website (Clarecoco.ie) where people can click on their area to find out details of what is available,” she said.
Ms Haugh noted that the Doolin Motorbike Club also operate a collection and delivery service countywide on Saturdays and Sundays at the moment, 9am-5pm. “They’re responding to calls to the helpline during those two days,” she said. “We have Civil Defence as well providing a similar collection and delivery service, seven days a week.”
Ms Haugh noted the Clare Community Response Forum continued to meet and to raise issue of concern locally and nationally.
The Clare Covid-19 Community Response Helpline is available from 8am to 8pm on 1800-203600 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.