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James Lafferty Irish Red Cross Clare Area Treasurer & Campaign Coordinator. Photograph by John Kelly.

Growing demand for Red Cross Community Transport Support in Clare

COVID-19 may have resulted in lock-down and the cancellation of events throughout the county, however the Clare branch of the Irish Red Cross has continued its vital support of the community.
Even with the pandemic, the branch’s community transport service, which brings people from all over the county to medical appointments, has helped more people than it did in 2018.
In order to support the organisation’s work, the need for a second community support vehicle has been identified with the numbers currently being turned away greater than those being helped.
James Lafferty, Treasurer and Community Support Officer explains, “The amount of people we have been helping has been unreal, we’ve been a lot busier since Covid.”
However in order to achieve this the Clare branch have to raise funds and they are urging the people of the county to support the effort. James explains that due to Covid-19 the popular Tour of Clare fundraiser had to be postponed, and has only just resumed in recent weeks.
“We’ve been busier than ever but we haven’t been able to fundraise like we would normally so that has been a challenge. We have seen a huge need for a second vehicle.”
In 2018 the service completed 100 trips and in 2019 it had grown to 209 trips covering medical and social events. So far in 2020 there have been 157 trips, as due to Covid-19 all social outings were postponed. The Clare branch envisage a major change to this by the end of the year if restrictions are lifted are more social events get the go-ahead.
Commenting on the need for a second vehicle, Cathal Byrnes, deputy area director of units, said, “In a meeting recently I was asked to justify my reasons for looking for a new community support vehicle. My answer is simple. To support the community of Clare.”
He outlines that the numbers of those who have been supported justifies the vehicle they have, however, “What we need to do is look at the number of people we sadly have to turn away. If the number we turn away is equivalent to those we help it would be justified, but that is not the case. The number we turn away is even greater than the number we help. There is justification in wanting to increase the number of people we can help.”
It took the Clare area fundraising team three and a half years to raise the money needed for the first community transport vehicle with fundraisers including the Tour of Clare as well as support from the county’s national school children.
The Irish Red Cross Society Clare Area have been supporting the people of Clare with medical appointments since August 2016 free of charge. “This is a vital role carried out by our volunteers weekly. The number of young and old, and able bodied, people living alone, people that have no family and members of the general public rely on our great volunteers to get them to hospital appointments, doctor visits, eye appointments, out patients, cancer treatment and a whole range of reasons that they may need to come to or from is astounding. We take people to all corners of the country from all corners of the county. Sometimes their day can start at 3am just to have someone from some distant corner of Clare in Dublin for an 8 or 9am appointment. That very same person will be brought from their door to their destination and brought home to their family when all is done free of charge to the people of County Clare,” says Cathal.
Before Covid restrictions, the support vehicle also played a key role in promoting social outlings with visits to nursing homes taking the residents for day trips organised by the hospitals and nursing homes. The Ennis Old Folks group have been regular users over the last two years and the organisation hope to have other groups involved once restrictions are lifted.
The vehicle has been used to travel to parishes all over the county promoting the Irish Red Cross’ People Meeting People project, where community groups and parish committees organise social outings with the vehicle provided free of charge.
The Irish Red Cross in Clare plan to recruit community teams to cover all parts of the county who will be trained in handcare and first aid.
Donations to the work of the Irish Red Cross in Clare and the community support vehicle can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/f/irish-red-cross-clare-area-community-services alongside supporting the Tour of Clare counter top boxes and to 11 Tracklands Business Park, Tobartaoscain, Ennis, County Clare .

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