PEOPLE who have benefited from the Killaloe Community Covid-19 Response team hugely appreciated this service, according to a local councillor.
While some people were a bit reluctant at first to receive assistance, Councillor Tony O’Brien pointed out volunteers quickly put them at ease by reinforcing the message this was something they wanted to do for their local community.
“If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is none of us are an island. Irish people are great for coming to the assistance of our neighbours in a time of trouble.
“While rural isolation is a problem, there was also huge isolation within towns and villages. Some people had a routine of going to Mass in the morning and getting milk or bread on the way home. They lost all that. They were so lonely left behind closed doors.
“This is where the Covid-19 response teams came to the fore. The volunteers deserve huge credit as they could identify people who needed help and put them at ease when they were delivering their medication or shopping. This helped to address social isolation and loneliness.
“There is a huge amount of good will towards people. If we can harness this and keep this community and civic spirit going when the pandemic ends.
“If enough people came forward and gave one hour for their community every week, wouldn’t it be fantastic.”
The Fianna Fáil Councillor paid tribute to postmen and postwomen who completed tasks above and beyond the call of duty by doing errands and engaging in conversation with people, particularly those living on their own.
When Covid-19 restrictions were first introduced more than a year ago, Councillor O’Brien recalled members of Smith O’Brien’s GAA club could see how they were adversely impacting on people in the local community.
A few club members decided to set up a Covid-19 community group on a voluntary basis before local authorities and other agencies provided support.
In March 2020, the Killaloe Councillor said people with underlying medical conditions and the elderly were very fearful of contracting the virus.
Some of the Covid-19 response team decided to call in to elderly neighbours living in isolated areas to make sure they were getting supplies and medication they needed.
Most of these people are not on Facebook or any type of social media, which left them at a disadvantage in terms of social media campaigns.
“It grew and grew. Clare County Council became involved and co-ordinated all the voluntary groups throughout the county.
“Former Clare All-Ireland winning captain, Anthony Daly became a Covid-19 ambassador and a number of networks and supports were established.
“It was initiated by people living in local communities and was one of the fantastic things that happened during the pandemic.”
In the early days, Councillor O’Brien said the group was very busy with up to 80 volunteers doing call outs at different times.
As the year went on, he recalled the need has waned as families became more organised and more people working outside of the county started working at home in line with government advice.
He praised local traders for the way they have responded to local needs over the past year.
“I think local businesses have really stepped up to the plate to do deliveries to people in their homes out-of-hours. I hope when we get back to some type of normality that is not forgotten by people who will in turn support local businesses.”
Expressing concern about Covid-19 fatigue, he stressed vaccination is vital to open up the economy.
“People need some hope and light at the end of the tunnel. People have been excellent and need to be able to get back to going to Mass or to be able to see your grandchildren or drive from Killaloe to Lahinch.
“We need to give people a bit of responsibility if they see a big crowd in a place and they are not comfortable with it, they move on.”
Highlighting the need to resume sports training for teenagers and young people, he expressed fears some young people may continue to spend too much time on social media when the Covid-19 restrictions end.
“Mental health will be a huge issue over the next year. It might be hard to get all young people to resume training with clubs and groups.”