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Volunteers Jim Collins and Clare Henchy of East Clare Covid Community Response unit who are helping with essential deliveries in the East Clare Area. Photograph by John Kelly.

Helpline Launched to Support Those Cocooning in East Clare

A DEDICATED helpline to support those cocooning and self-isolating in East Clare has been established.

The service, which can be reached at 085-8659889 from 9am to 4pm, is designed to ensure anyone in need of help can access it through the East Clare Covid-19 Community Response Group. The group, which works in collaboration with Clare County Council, is made up of volunteers from Flagmount, Killanena, Feakle, Scariff, Tuamgraney, Ogonnelloe, Bodyke, Mountshannon and Whitegate, and the helpline has been set up to ensure greater coordination and a faster response for those in need.

Jim Collins from Mountshannon, who is one of those responding to helpline calls, told The Champion there is now “an army of volunteers” in place. “The support has really been overwhelming,” he noted. “There has been an amazing willingness to help and we have members from every sports and social club as well as the community sector.”

To-date, the volume of calls to the helpline has been manageable, and Jim noted that that is a positive indication overall: “I suppose it means that most people have access to support from family and friends. This is a rural area with a lot of people living alone in fairly isolated places. Even if someone has a relative nearby, they might not be able to see them if that person has to self-isolate. This is also an area where many people have moved to, so they might not have a network here. They’re delighted to have support.”

Most calls concern requests for help with shopping or collecting prescriptions, and once the  message is received, it sets a chain of communication in motion. “Our response group is organised at parish level, and there is a lead organiser in each parish. When a request for support comes in, I’ll contact the relevant leader who will, in turn, dispatch volunteers. Everything we do is in accordance with the public health guidelines and we work with the support of Clare County Council too.”

All across the county, the pandemic has brought out a hugely positive voluntary response, but it is fair to say that mobilisation in East Clare has been particularly rapid and highly organised.

“In the fortnight before the lock-down, it became apparent that we were facing something very serious,” Jim said. “A couple of us had a chat on a Friday morning about what might be done. By Friday evening, there was as meeting at Scariff GAA Club, and by Saturday evening, we were up and running. I think that’s down to the community spirit in East Clare and the network of local groups, and the fact that people want to do what’s best and to look out for others in tough times.”

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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