7 April 2020
By Bryan Smyth
Cork City Council’s Community Response Forum (CRF) helpline, aimed at supporting vulnerable residents, took over 307 calls since it first began operation over a week ago.
The freephone helpline, which operates seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m, was launched last Monday, March 30 and is part of the Community Call during the COVID-19 emergency.
The majority of calls to the helpline have related to the collection and delivery of groceries, prescriptions, fuel and other essential household items, and the delivery of meals. Cork City Council staff, the HSE, An Garda Siochána and community organisations such as Meals on Wheels are amongst the partner groups who are responding to these requests for support.
Requests for support due to an increasing sense of social isolation have also figured in phonecalls received – with a number of people experiencing loneliness as they stay at home. The CRF can put residents in contact with Friendly Call Cork who provide a listening ear and a friendly voice on the phone to anyone experiencing loneliness. Friendly Call Cork, is set up to tackle loneliness among older people, those with physical and mental disabilities and those who are socially isolated. It has expanded its services to deal with Covid-19 and the Cork City Partnership team have brought on more volunteers to meet the increased demand.
Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. John Sheehan said: “We are delighted to see that the people of Cork are using this helpline and we would encourage people, who maybe have never asked for help before, to not be afraid to pick up the phone. These are unprecedented times for us all – but don’t forget we are all in this together and we will likely come out the other side with a deeper appreciation of the important things in life – and that includes living in a city which is rich in community supports and community spirit.
“There are many local organisations and agencies doing super work in delivering care to older and vulnerable people in our communities and the Community Response Forum is aimed at building on this, not duplicating it,” he said.
Cork City Community Response Forum Co-Ordinator, Denis Barrett said: “Cork City has been broken into 16 local area teams with a Cork City Council community worker and HSE community worker in each area who will work with ‘local champions’ – the existing voluntary organisations and groups who know their locality and can help match need with service delivery”.
“Each of the 16 local areas also has a link to Community Garda Services. Several Cork City Council employees have already been redeployed to help the community support effort and the numbers redeployed are growing every day. From manning the new Community Call freephone helpline, to delivering shopping, meals and medication, Cork City Council staff have embraced their new roles, in the true spirit of public service. We are all in this together,” he said.
Cork City Council would like to remind members of the public that the Community Call helpline is set up specifically to provide support to vulnerable citizens during the COVID-19 restrictions. Our dedicated Customer Service Unit is available for all queries relating to Cork City Council’s normal services, such as housing, parking, planning or to report road defects etc. Please contact our 021-4924000 or firstname.lastname@example.org such queries.
Several kind-hearted Corkonians also contacted the helpline over the weekend, wondering how they could register to volunteer their service in this crisis. Would-be volunteers are asked to contact Volunteer Cork on 021 4251572, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or on email@example.com . They maintain a database of volunteers and are coordinating the volunteer effort in the city.