7 May 2020
By Elaine Murphy
Community spirit on Cork’s Northside is alive and well and never more vibrant than now, as Mayfield’s community groups pull together under the Community Response Forum to help vulnerable locals.
Newbury House Family Centre on Old Youghal Road is a hive of activity for the Mayfield CRF, where two team members man the telephones and field the requests for assistance. They pass on the requests to the local volunteer groups who can best help the person in need. These volunteer groups include Mayfield GAA, Brian Dillons GAA, Lotamore Family Support, Mayfield CDP, the Scouts and St. Joseph’s Community Centre.
Newbury House Family Centre supports all age groups, from providing phone supports, video activity links and online parenting programmes to the younger generations, to assisting in grocery shopping, prescription collection and pension collection for the older members of the community. In one week alone, they provided 18 video link family counselling sessions as well as over-the-phone counselling supports, a valuable and vital service, particularly in these more restrictive times. Through Mayfield Arts Centre, they have also run online activities for children and have distributed family activity and food packs.
Mayfield Priority Shoppers is a 52-strong team drawn from some of these groups including Mayfield GAA and Brian Dillons GAA. Coordinated by Newbury House Family Resource Centre team, the Shoppers are linked via a WhatsApp group and quickly respond to requests. Newbury House developed procedures and coordinated with shop managers to ensure that the volunteers, in their distinctive high-viz vests, would get priority in supermarket queues, enabling them to get the shopping deliveries to their recipients as quickly as possible.
Members of the two local GAA clubs, Brian Dillons and Mayfield, have been collecting groceries and household items from local supermarkets and delivering them to elderly people cocooning or those self-isolating. Both teams have been involved in a food drive for Cork Penny Dinners. Mayfield GAA successfully collected 6 full trolleys of food from Dunnes customers for the charity.
As well as providing phone support for family and elderly service users, Lotamore Family Support have headed up the Meals on Wheels (MOW) service in the Mayfield area, and St. Joseph’s Community Centre have provided the MOW team with their facilities to prepare and deliver 500 meals per week. St. Joseph’s Community Centre also has phone and administrative supports in place for the community to avail of.
Mayfield CDP have taken the lead on the prescription collection service in the area. A WhatsApp group was set up for those in need and links were made with a local pharmacy. At the moment, they are collecting 7 prescriptions a week. Mayfield CDP also produces Mayfield Matters, a local news letter. Recent editions of Mayfield Matters have provided local resource information and COVID-19 response material to its readers, and 35 volunteers have delivered over 5,000 copies directly to local homes. The CDP also provides an admin service, printing and posting forms as requested.
Cork City Council CRF lead in Mayfield Martin Dineen remarked on the sheer dedication and determination of the various community groups in the area, saying “As the weeks have passed, our volunteers have been consistently checking in and staying in touch with the service users, fostering those all important person-to-person links in the community that will linger on long after COVID-19 has passed us by.”
Rosella Sheehan, Manager at Newbury House Family Centre said: “I’ve worked in Mayfield for 20 years with community groups, there’s enormous job satisfaction from seeing the tremendous positive spirit of the community groups coming together regardless of background or age profile or activity.”